« PreviousContinue »
prevent it. But abundance of such consequences | God; to be saved or happy without enjoying, must needs follow from the denying of the high. God by love, or to love him and not desire him, est good, which is God himself, and confessing seek him or obey him, are as great contradicnone but his efficient goodness. But some will tions as to be illuminated without light, or quickbe offended with me for being so serious in con- ened without life. What way soever it be that futing such an irrational, atheistical conceit, who God conveys his sanctifying Spirit, I am sure know not how far it prevails with an atheistical that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, generation.
the same is none of his,' and that without holiBe it known to you, careless sinners, that ness none shall see God,' and that if you will though the sun will shine on you whether you have the kingdom of God, you must seek it think on it or not, or love it, or thank it or not; first, preferring it before all earthly things. Then and the fire will warm you whether you think if all the question that remains undecided be, on it, and love it or not; yet God will not Whether God do you wrong or not in damning justify or save you, whether you love him or you, or whether God be good because he will think on him or not: God doth not operate un- not save you when he can, I shall leave you to wisely in your salvation ; but governs you wisely, him to receive satisfaction, who will easily silence as rational creatures are to be governed ; and and confound your impudence, and justify his therefore will give you happiness as a reward; works and laws. Prepare your accusations against and therefore will not deal alike with those that him, if you will needs insist upon them, and try love him, and that love him not; that seek whether he or you shall prevail : but remember him, and that seek him not; with the labourers that thou art a worm, and he is God, and that he and the loiterers, the faithful and the slothful will be the only judge when all is done ; and igservant. Would you have us believe that you norance and impiety, that prate against him to know better than God himself what pleases him- their own confusion, in the day of his patience, self, or on what terms he will give his benefits, shall not then usurp the throne. and save men's souls ? or do you know his nature Object. 2. But how can God be fit for mortals better than he knows it, that you dare presume to converse with, when they see him not, and to say, because he needs not our love or duty, are infinitely below him ? therefore they are not pleasing to him? Then Answ. I hope you will not say that you have what hath God to do in governing the world, if nothing to do at home, with your own souls: be be pleased and displeased with nothing that yet you never saw your souls. It is the soul, men do, or with good and evil actions equally ? the reason and the will of men that you daily Though you cannot hurt him, you shall find that converse with here in the world, more than their he will hurt you, if you disobey him : though bodies, and yet you never saw their souls, their you cannot make him happy by your holiness, reason or their wills. If you have no higher you shall find that he will not make you happy light to discern by than your eye-sight, you are without it.
not men but beasts. If you are inen, you have If he did work as necessarily as the sun doth reason; and if you are Christians, you have shine, according to your similitude ; yet, 1. faith, by which you know things that you never Even the shining of the sun doth not illuminate saw. You have more dependence on the things the blind nor doth it make the seeds of thorns that are unseen, than on those which you see, and nettles to bring forth vines or roses, nor the and have much more to do with them. gendering of frogs to bring forth men ; but it Though God be infinitely above us, yet he actuates all things according to the several na- condescends to communicate to us according tures of their powers. Therefore how can you to our capacities : as the sun is far from us, and expect that an unbelieving and unboly soul, should yet doth not disdain to enlighten, warm, and enjoy felicity in God, when in that state they are quicken a worm or fly here below. If any be incapable of it? 2. If the sun do necessarily yet so much an atheist as to think that religious illuminate any one, he must necessarily be illu- converse with God is but a fancy, let him well minated ; and if it necessarily warm or quicken answer me these few questions. any thing, it must be necessarily warmed and Quest. 1. Doth not the continued being and quickened ; else you would assert contradictions. well-being of the creatures, tell us that there is a So if God did necessarily save you, and make God on whom, for being and well-being, the you happy, you would necessarily be saved and depend, and from whom they are, and have made happy. That contains essentially your whatsoever they are and whatsoever they have ? holiness, your loving, desiring and seeking after And therefore that passively all the creatures
have more respect to him by far, than to one Quest. 7. Is it not a contradiction to be happy another.
in the fruition of God, and yet not to mind him, Quest. 2. Seeing God communicates to every desire him, or seek him ? How is it that the creature according to their several capacities; is soul can reach its object, but by estimation, deit not meet then that he deal with man as man, sire and seeking after it: how should it enjoy it even as a creature rational, capable to know, but by loving it, and taking pleasure in it ? love, and obey his great Creator, and to be happy Quest. 8. While you seem but to wrangle in the knowledge, love and fruition of him ? against the duty of believers, do you not plead That man hath such natural faculties, and capa- against the comfort and happiness of believers ? cities, is not to be denied by a man that knows For surely the employment of the soul on God, what it is to be a man : that God hath not given and for him, is the health and pleasure of the soul ; him these in vain, will be easily believed by any to call away the soul from such employment
, is that indeed believe that he is God.
to imprison it in the dungeon of this world, and Quest. 3. Is there any thing else that is finally to forbid us to smell the sweetest flowers, and worthy of the highest actions of our souls ? or confine us to a sink or dunghill, and to forbid that is fully adequate to them, and fit to be our us to taste of the food of angels, or of men, and happiness ? If not, then we are left either to to offer us vinegar and gall, or turn us over to certain infelicity, contrary to the tendency of our feed with swine. He that pleads that there is natures, or else we must seek our felicity in no such thing as real holiness and communion God.
with God, doth plead in effect that there is no Quest. 4. Is there any thing more certain than true felicity or delight for any of the sons of that by the title of creation, our Maker hath a men : and how welcome should ungodly atheists full and absolute right to all that he hath made : be unto mankind, that would for ever exclude and consequently to all our love and obedience, them all from happiness, and make them believe our time and powers ? For whom should they they are all made to be remedilessly miserable ? all be used but for him from whom we have Here take notice of the madness of the unobtained them ?
thankful world, that hates and persecntes the Quest. 5. Can any thing be more sure, than preachers of the gospel, who bring them the glad that God is the righteous governor of the world, tidings of pardon, hope, and life eternal, of solid and that he governs man as a rational creature, happiness, and durable delight; and yet they are by laws and judgment ? Can we live under his not offended at these atheists and ungodly cavilabsolute sovereignty, under his many righteous lers, that would take them off from all that is laws, under his promise of salvation to the justi- truly good and pleasant, and make them believe fied, and under his threatenings of damnation to that nature hath made them capable of no higher the unjustified, and yet not have more to do with things than beasts, and hath enthralled them in God than with all the world ? If indeed you remediless infelicity. think that God doth not love and reward the Quest. 9. Do you not see by experience that holy and obedient, and punish the ungodly and there are a people in the world whose hearts are disobedient, then either you take him not to be upon God, and the life to come ; and that make governor of the world, or, which is worse, you it their chief care and business to seek him and take him to be an unrighteous governor: then to serve him ? How then can you say that there you must by the same reason say, that magis- is no such thing, or that we are not capable of trates and parents should do so too, and love it, when it is the case of so many before your and reward the obedient and disobedient alike : eyes ? If you say that it is but their fancy or but if any man's disobedience were exercised to self-deceit: I answer, that really their hearts are your hurt, by slandering, or beating, or robbing set upon God, and the everlasting world, and you, I dare say you would not then commend so that it is their chief care and business to attain it; indifferent and unjust a governor.
this is a thing that they feel, and that you may Quest. 6. If it be not needless for man to labour see in the bent and labour of their lives ; and for food and raiment, and necessary provision therefore you cannot call that a fancy, of which for his body, how can it be needless for him to you have so full experience ; but whether the labour for the happiness of his soul? If God motives that have invited them, and engaged will not give us our daily bread while we never them to such a choice and course, be fancies and think of it, or seek it, why should we expect deceits or not, let God be judge, and let the that he will give us heaven though we never awakened consciences of worldlings themselves think on it, value it, or seek it ?
be judge, when they have seen the end, and tried
whether it be earth or heaven that is the shadow, afford, it is all but folly and impertinent dotage, and whether it be God or their unbelieving hearts if it reach not unto God. that was deceived.
2. Yea, your thonghts are erroneous and false, Quest. 10. Have you any hopes of living with which is more than barely ignorant, if God be God for ever, or not? If you have not, no not in them. You have false thoughts of the wonder if you live as beasts, when you have no world, of your houses and lands, friends, and higher expectations than beasts : when we are so pleasures, and whatsoever is the daily employblind as to give up all our hopes, we will also ment of your minds. You take them to be somegive up all our care and holy diligence, and thing, when they are nothing ; you are covetous think we have nothing to do with heaven. But of the empty purse, and know not that you cast if you have any such hopes, can you think that away the treasure : you are thirsty after the any thing is fitter for the chief of your thoughts empty cup, when you wilfully cast away the and cares, than the God and kingdom, which drink. You hungrily seek to feed upon a painted you hope for ever to enjoy ? Or is there any feast: you murder the creature by separating it thing that can be more suitable, or should be from God who is its life, and then you are enamore delightful to your thoughts, than to employ moured on the carcass; and spend your days them about your highest hopes, upon your endless and thoughts in its cold embraces. Your thoughts happiness and joy, and should not that be now are straggling abroad the world, and following the most noble and pleasant employment for your impertinencies, if God be not in them. You are minds, which is nearest to that which you hope like men that walk up and down in their sleep, to be exercised in for ever? Undoubtedly he or like those that have lost themselves in the that hath true and serious thoughts of heaven, dark, who weary themselves in going they know will highly value that life on earth which is likest not whither, and have no end nor certain way. to the life in heaven : and he that hates or is 3. If God be not in all your thoughts, they most averse to that which is nearest to the work are all in vain. They are like the drone that of heaven, does boast in vain of his hopes of gathereth no honey: they fly abroad and return heaven.
home empty: they bring home no matter of By this time you may see (if you love not to honour to God, or profit or comfort to yourbe blind) that man's chief business in the world selves : they are employed to no more purpose is with his God, and that our thoughts, and all than in your dreams : only they are more capaour powers, are made to be employed upon him, ble of sin : like the distracted thoughts of one or for him; and that this is no such needless that doteth in a fever, they are all but nonsense, work as atheists make themselves believe. whatever you employ them on, while you leave
Remember that it is the description of the out God, who is the sense of all. desperately wicked, that God is not in all his 4. If God be not in all your thoughts, they are thoughts. And if yet you understand it not, I nothing but confusion : there can be no just unity will a little further show you the evil of such athe- in them, because they forsake him who is the istical unhallowed thoughts.
only centre, and are scattered abroad upon inco1. There is nothing but darkness in all thy herent creatures. There can be no true unity thoughts, if God be not in them. Thou know- but in God: the further we go from him, the est nothing, if thou knowest not him ; and thou further we run into divisions and confusions. usest not thy knowledge, if thou use it not on There can be no just method in them, because he him. To know the creature as without God, is is left out that is the beginning and the end. to know nothing: no more than to know all the They are not like a well-ordered army, where letters in the book, and not to know their signi- every one is moved by the will of one commander, fication or sense. All things in the world are and all know their colours and their ranks, and but insignificant cyphers, and of no other sense unanimously agree to do their work : but like a or use, if you separate them from God, who is swarm of Aies, that buzz about they know not their sense and end. If you leave out God in whither, nor why, nor for what. There is no all your studies, you do but dream and doat, and true government in your thoughts, if God be not not understand what you seem to understand. in them; they are masterless and vagrants, and Though you were taken for the most learned have no true order, if they be not ordered by men in the world, and were able to discourse of him, and to him, if he be not their first and all the sciences, and your thoughts had no lower last. employment daily than the most sublime specu- 5. If God be not in all your thoughts, there is lations which the nature of all the creatures doth no life in them : they are but like the motion of a bubble, or a feather in the air : they are impo- your folly, and vexing yourselves, that you took tent as to the resisting of any evil, and as to the not warning, and made not a wiser choice in doing of any saving good: they have no strength time? The creature was never made to be our in them, because they are laid out upon objects end, or rest, or happiness : and therefore you are that have no strength : they have no quickening, but like a man in a wilderness or maze, that may renewing, reforming, encouraging, resolving, con- go up and down, but knows not whitber, and firming power in them, because there is no such finds no end, till you come home to God, who power in the things on which they are employed : only is your proper end, and make him the whereas the thoughts of God and everlasting life, Lord, and life, and pleasure of your thoughts. can do wonders upon the soul: they can raise 7. As there is no present fixedness in your up men above this world, and teach them to de- thoughts, so the business and pleasure of them spise the worldling's idol, and look upon all the will be of very short continuance, if God be not pleasures of the flesh as upon animal delight in the chief in all. Who would choose to employ wallowing in the mire. They can renew the his thoughts on such things as he is sure they soul, and cast out the most powerful beloved sin, must soon forget, and never more have any and bring all our powers into the obedience of business with to all eternity? You shall think God, and that with pleasure and delight: they of those houses, lands, friends, and pleasures but can employ us with the angels, in a heavenly a little while, unless it be with repenting torconversation, and show us the glory of the world menting thoughts, in the place of misery : you above, and advance us above the life of the will have no delight to think of any thing, which greatest princes upon earth : but the thoughts of is now most precious to your flesh, when once earthly fleshly things have power indeed to de- the flesh itself decays, and is no more capable of lude men, mislead them, and hurry them about delight ; ‘his breath goeth forth, he returneth in a vertiginous motion ; but no power to sup- to his earth; in that very day his thoughts port us, or subdue concupiscence, or heal our perish.' folly, or save us from temptations, to lead us back Call in your thoughts then from these transifrom our errors, or help us to be useful in the tory things, that have no consistency or continua world, or to attain felicity at last. There is no ance, and turn them unto him with whom they life, nor power, nor efficacy in our thoughts, if may find everlasting employment and delight: God be not in them.
remember not the enticing baits of sensuality and 6. There is no stability or fixedness in your pride, but remember now thy Creator in the thoughts if God be not in them. They are like days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, a boat upon the ocean, tossed up and down with nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I winds and waves : the mutable uncertain crea- have no pleasure in them.' tures can yield no rest or settlement to your 8. Thy thoughts are but sordid, dishonourable ininds. You are 'troubled about many things ;' and low, if God be not the object of them. They and the more you think on them, and have to do reach no higher than the habitation of beasts ; nor with them, the more are you troubled : but you do they attain to any sweeter employment than forget the one thing necessary, and fly from the to meditate on the felicity of a brute: thou eternal Rock, on which you must build, if ever choosest with the fly to feed on corruption, when you will be established. While the creature is in thou mightest have free access to God himself, your thought instead of God, you will be one and mightest be entertained in the court of headay deluded with its unwholesome pleasure, and ven, and welcomed thither by the holy angels : the next day feel it pierce you at the heart : one thou wallowest in the mire with the swine, or day it will seem your happiness, and the next diggest thyself a house in the earth, as worms you will wish you had never known it: that which and mules do, when thy thoughts might be soarseems the only comfort of your lives this year, ing up to God, and might be taken up with high may the next year make you weary of your lives. and holy and everlasting things. What if your One day your are impatiently desiring and seek thoughts were employed for preferment, wealth, ing it, as if you could not live without it: and and honour in the world? Alas! what silly the next day, or ere long, you are impatiently de- things are these, in comparison of what your siring to be rid of it: you are now taking in your souls are capable of; you will say so yourselves pleasant morsels, and drinking down your deli- when you see how they will end, and disappoint cious draughts, and jovially sporting it with your your expectations. Imprison not your minds in inconsiderate companions : but how quickly will this infernal cell, when the superior regions are you be repenting of all this, and complaining of open to their access : confine them not to this
narrow vessel of the body, whose tossings and God and his interest shall be better understood, dangers on these boisterous seas will make them when this dishonesty against him, will be the restless, and disquiet them with tumultuous pas- matter of the most confounding shame, that ever sions, when they may safely land in paradise, did or could befall men. Prevent this by the and there converse with Christ. God made you juster exercise of your thoughts, and keeping men, and if you reject not his grace, will make them pure and chaste to God. you saints : make not yourselves like beasts. 10. If God be not in your thoughts there will God gave you souls that can step in a moment be no matter in them of solid comfort or contentfrom earth to heaven, and there foretaste the end- ment. Trouble and deceit will be all their less joys : do not you stick then fast in clay, and work : when they have fled about the earth, and fetter them with worldly cares, or intoxicate them taken a taste of every flower, they will come with fleshly pleasures, nor employ them in the home loaded with nothing better than vanity and worse than childish toys of ambitious, sensual, vexation. Such thoughts may excite the laughter worldly men : your thoughts have manna, angels' of a fool, and cause that mirth that is called food, provided them by God: if you will lothe madness. But they will never conduce to settled this and refuse it, and choose with the serpent peace, and durable content: therefore they are to feed on the dust, or upon the filth of sin, God always repented of themselves, and are troubleshall be judge and your consciences one day shall some to our review, as being the shame of the be more faithful witnesses, whether you have dealt sinner, which he would be cleared of, or disown. like wise men or like fools ; like friends or ene- Though you may approach the creature with mies to yourselves ; and whether you have not passionate fondness, and the most delightful chosen baseness, and denied yourselves the ad- promises and hopes, be sure of it, you will come vancement which was offered you.
off at last with grief and disappointment, if not 9. If God be not the chief in your thoughts, with the loathing of that which you choose for they are no better than dishonest and unjust. your delight. Your thoughts are in a wilderYou are guilty of denying him his own. He ness among thorns and briars, when God is not made not your minds for lust and pleasure, but in them as their guide and end : they are lost for himself: you expect that your cattle, your and torn among the creatures ; but rest and sagoods, your servants, be employed for yourselves, tisfaction they will find none. It may be at the because they are your own. But God may call present it is more pleasant to you to think of reyour minds his own by a much fuller title: for creation, or business, or worldly wealth, than to you hold all but derivatively and dependently think of God: but the pleasure of these thoughts from him : what will you call it but injustice and is as delusory, and short-lived, as are the things dishonesty, if your wife, or children, or servants, themselves on which you think. How long will or goods, be more at the use and service of you think with pleasure on such fading transitory others, than of you? If any can show a better things? The pleasure cannot be great at the title to your thoughts than God doth, let him present, which reaches but the flesh and fancy, have them ; but if not, deny him not his own. and which the possessed knows will be but O stray not so much from home; for you will be short. Nay you will shortly find by sad expeno where else so well there : Desire not to follow rience, that of all the creatures under heaven strangers, you know not whither, nor for what; there will none be so bitter to your thoughts, as you have a master of your own, that will be better those in which you now find greatest carnal to you than all the strangers in the world. Bow sweetness. O how bitter will the thought of not down to creatures, that are but images of the idolized honour, and abused wealth and greattrue and solid good : commit not idolatry or ness be, to a dying or a damned Dives! The adultery with them in your thoughts ; remember thoughts of that ale-house or play-house where still that God stands by: bethink you how he thou hadst thy greatest pleasure, will trouble will take it at your hands ; and how it will be thee more than the thoughts of all the houses in judged of at last, when he pleads his right, his the town besides : the thoughts of that one wokindness, and solicitations for you; and you have man with whom thou didst commit thy pleasant so little to say for any pretence of right or merit sin, will wound and vex thee more than the in the creature. Why are not men ashamed of thoughts of all the women in the town besides. the greatest dishonesty against God, when all the thoughts of that beloved sport which thou that have any humility left them, do take adult- couldst not be weaned from, will be more ery, theft, and other dishonesty against crea- troublesome to thee than the thoughts of a thoutores, for a shame? The time will come when sand other things in which thou hadst no inor