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any thing besides himself. And his glory, his essential | The will of God is perfectly complied with in heaven; glory; the lustre of all the excellencies of his being, is his that will which our desires, while we are bere on earth, are end; not that which he covets and proposes as distant io be guided by; in our measure we are to desire God's and anaitained; but which he enjoyeih, and acquiesceth will may be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. It is in, and which he cannot but have always in his own pos- perfectly complied with in heaven : they cannot have a session, as he cannot but be in the entire, uninterrupied, dissentient will from their Maker; and, therefore, must be everlasting possession of the excellencies of his own understood to have been contentedly employed upon this being.
errand, to proclaim peace, peace to the inhabitants of this And it ought seriously to be considered, that so we may earth, when they had none to proclaim for the inhabitants not in our own thoughts debase the eternal, most excelleni, of that other horrid region; knowing that they, who were and most blessed Being, by supposing that he proposeih it their brethren, and of their own order, in the creation of to himself as his end, to aim at that which would be God, were bound up in the chains of everlasting darkness, thought unworthy of a wise and good man lo aim at; thai without remedy or mercy, and reserved unto the judgment is, oply to be well thought of, and applauded. This is a of the great day, they willingly come upon this errand, to thing that is consequent, and which ought to be, and which proclaim peace to the inhabitants of this earth, and are we ought to propose to ourselves as our end. But it is too made use of as heralds in this proclamation. low and mean an end for God. We may design that for And as this peace must principally be between God and another man, to wit, his praise, which no other man, who | man. so it must be understood to be mutual in the intendis wise and good, will design for himself; but take plea ment of it between both, that God should be reconciled !o sure in the rectitude of his design, and that goodness of them, and that they should be reconciled onto God. And, his own actions; and enjoy them, as every good man doth, indeed, there can be no such thing as peace between Gud in bearing the image of God upon him. And therefore, and man upon other terms : for if he were willing upon this is a God-like thing; and so must be in the highest other terms to be reconciled to man, it would be altogether perfection in the ever-blessed God himself, and in the ex- insignificant, and to no purpose. He would be reconcellency of his own being, and in the correspondent recti ciled to an unreconciled irreconcilable man, whose heart tude of all his own designs. But this is that which must should still remain filled with enmity, poisoned with maligconsequently, and secondarily, come under the common nity and venom against God. It would be to no purpose notice of his intelligent and apprehensive creatures, where to him, for man would be no nearer felicity; and it is imupon it is their business, and indispensable duty, lo own, possible for me to be happy in what I hate ; and it is also and adore, and honour him, for the good that is in him; impossible for the children of men to be happy in any thing to wit, to think well and honourably of him, and speak | bui God. well and honourably of him, upon this account, even as Now supposing this peace to be mutual between God goodness in men, and amongst men, is a thing that claims and man ; to wit, he is reconciled to them, and they are and challenges acknowledgment and praises from them reconciled to him, the prosecution of his justice doth cease, within whose notice it comes. And then,
and their enmity towards him ceaseth ; There is no longer 2. That being the primary thing here spoken of, which a contest kept up between his justice and their injustice; is to result out of this great design, "Glory to God in the then this mutual peace must carry in it two things, agreehighest,” all capable and apprehensive creatures being able to what is carried in the notion of peace between one obliged, to their uttermost, to celebrate and glorify him, nation, or sort of people, and another that have been muupon the account of what he was now doing in reference tually at war with one another; that is, there is somewhat to this wretched world ; that being, I say, the first result privative, and somewhat positive, carried in such cases in of this undertaking, upon which our Lord Jesus Christ the notion of peace ;-Ist, a cessation of hostility, and 2ndly was now descending and coming down into this world, | freedom of commerce. the second is—“ Peace on earth.” And that former was 1. A cessation of hostility. They no longer war with to spring out of this latter, as the whole economy of one another; God doth no longer pursue them with regrace in that mentioned 4th chapter to the Ephesians, venge, with hostile acts in that kind ; that is, if once a a design for the glory of God's grace; to wit, it is to peace be brought about, whenever this peace obtains, and be designed by all the subjects, and all the observers hath its effect, he doth no longer follow them with acts of thereof.
vengeance. And they do no longer rise up against him in And now concerning this peace on earth, I shall speak acts of hatred and aversion; they no longer say to him, but very briefly to it, in my way to the third thing which “Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways:" I most principally intended, in my pitching upon this they are no longer fighting against the righteousness and scripture; to wit, the original and fountain of all the good equity of his holy precepts, as the carnal mind is “enmity will after mentioned. This peace upon earth must be un- against God, and is not subject to his law, nor indeed can derstood to design, first, somewhat more primarily; and be." All this ceaseth ; that is, it cannot be now in any then, secondly, somewhat more secondarily, and depend prevalency, in a prevailing degree. And thereupon, ent upon the former.
2. That which is positive doth ensue. As it was between The primary intendment of it must be peace between nation and nation, which were at war, there is not only a God and man, the inhabitants of this earth, its principal cessation of hostilities, but there is a setting on foot a comand more noble inhabitants, in relation to the state of war merce, an amicable commerce, a free commerce; so it is and hostility that was between him and them, they having between God and man now: there is not only no war, but revolled from him, agreed and combined in a rebellion there is a communion, there is a friendly intercourse : against him ; not only with one another, but with the other God freely flows in upon them in acts of grace, kindness, apostate creatures, who had made a defection before, the and goodness. His Spirit was under a restraint before, angels that fell, and so drew man in as their accomplices (according to the doom and judgment past-"My Spirit in that horrid revolt. And this must be observed as spoken shall no longer strive,') is now at liberty, set at liberty, too with discrimination, as we shall have hereafter occasion from under these restraints. It now freely breathes upon 10 note to you; “Peace on earth”-not with hell; there those souls, emits its light, lets it shine in upon them, is no proclamation of peace reaching that place. Those pours in the influence of the Sun of Righteousness, the vikind, benign creatures, this glorious host of angels, this ial, sanative influences of that Sun, who is said to "arise celestial chorus, though it is like enough it might have with healing in his wings," or beams. These vital, heal. been suitable to their inclinations (if that had been the de | ing beams are, by the Spirit of Christ, freely transmitted, sign and counsel of Heaven) to have carried tidings, and let into the very bearts and souls of such creatures, as a message of peace, to their fellow-creatures, of their own were at utmost distance from God before. order and rank, in the creation of God; yet while it ap- Alas! there was nothing to do between God and them, pears this had no place in the divine counsel, and they in a way of kindness or friendliness: his Spirit was a stranbeing so perfectly resigned creatures, and having the same ger to ihem; no beams of holy light ever shone upon Will (objectively considered with the divine, that is, not them; no influence of grace; they went with barren and willing a different sort of objects from what he willed; desolate souls, wrapt up in darkness and death : but now they joyfully come on this errand to men on earth. the way is open and free; there is no law against it, no
bar, but the communications of the Holy Ghost may be final and ultimate import of it-"Glory to God in the without obstruction. And, thereupon, their spirits are set highest," and then, "peace on earth.” This is the double at liberty towards God, and his Spirit is at liberty towards effect of this great undertaking, upon which our Lord did them and not withbeld. “Where the Spirit of the Lord now descend and come down into this world. But here is, there is liberty,” 2 Cor. iii. 17. Their soul was under comes next to be considered Iestraint and clouds before, a prisoner under the divine The principle, the well-spring, the eternal well-spring wrath and justice. They could no act, could not move, of this glorious and kind design; a design so glorious to could not stir, God-ward ; not so much as breathe, nor God, and so kind to man, what is the fountain and welldirect a breath towards God; no holy desires, no holy spring of all ? Nothing else but his own good will. And motions. But now, when commerce is restored, as the this is the thing I mainly intended to insist upon from Divine Spirit freely breathes on them, it enables them this Scripture. That baving so largely discoursed lo you freely to breathe alier God, to send forth desires, and take of the apostacy, the fall of the first man, and iben of the up their highest delight in him, so as to enable them to fallen state of man; and of the way wherein man bath say, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee, or whom can I been continued in this fallen state, from age to age, and desire on earth in comparison of thee ?" Psal. Ixxiii. 25. from generation to generation ; I might afterwards coine to
This is the primary intendment of this peace, proclaimed speak of his designed restitution and recovery. And being by this glorious host of angels: this is the ibing primarily so to do, (as the order of discourse should lead,) I shall intended to be brought about, and which shall have its tell you briefly what the scheme of our discourse now effect, more or less, and more largely, before the world must be ; to wit, ends. But then, there is.
I. To speak of the original and fountain of this de2. That which is consequential thereunto, to be con- signed resiitution of such fallen and lasped creatures. sidered, and that is-peace upon earth, among the inhabit. And, ants of it towards one another. This is not the primary II. Of the constitution of a Redeemer and a Mediator design, but it is the secondary, consequential aim and in order hereunto. And, effect of the great Peace-maker's undertaking, whereof III. To show what sort of person this Redeemer or There was a precedent and a leading case in the reconcilia- | Mediator must be; to wit, to treat of his person, of his tion that was first to be brought about between Jew and nature, of his offices, and of his performances. And then, gentile. “He is our peace, having made both one," Eph. IV. To lay before you the doctrine of the covenant of ii. 13. so as that the highest enmities and animosities that God in Christ. And, ever were between one sori of people and another, were to V. The office and operations of the Holy Ghost in the be taken up between these Jews and gentiles. How con- dispensation, and pursuantly to the design of the covelumeliously were the Jews wont lo speak of the gentiles; nant. And ihen, and how ignominiously did they again speak of them. VI. The effects wrought in all that shall actually apAnd the fraction was yet more fierce between the Jews pertain and belong to God, and he brought bome to him, and the Samaritans, that were all Israelites, all of one in and by Christ, this Great Head of the reducees, of rehouse; insomuch that common courtesies could not pass turning souls. And then, between them, as appears by that in the 4th chapter of VII. The way and course of such as shall be thus John. “How dost thou," (saith the Samaritan woman to savingly wrought upon, that holy work in wbich they Christ,)“ being a Jew, ask waler of me, that am a Samari- are thereupon to be engaged, and wherein they are to tan ? How strange is it! how can you expect that I, being persist, till they reach the end of that way. And then, a Samaritan, should give drink to you ihat are a Jew?” | lastly, And so great was the distance beiween the Jews and other VIII. The end of all things, with the several things that nations, that pagan writers have taken much notice of it. shall be coincident thereunio. Non monstrare vias (saith a pagan poet) cadem insi sacra The first thing in the course and order of discourse volenti ; that a fer would not so much as show the way to comes naturally to be insisted upon, (when we are to conone that was not of their own religion ; no, not that com-sider this business of the restitution of man,) is the origimon courtesy to tell a traveller his way. Why, he is our nal of such a design. Whence sprung it? What is the peace, he that brings it about, that shall finally, sooner or fountain, the well-head and spring of ibis great design ? later, bring about a universal peace, not only between Why, good will towards men. This is the summary acJew and gentile, (which was a precedent, a ruling case,) count that the matter admits of. It can be from nothing but among the several nations of the arth,
else but mere good will towards men. And in speaking “He is our peace when the Assyrian is in our land," to this, I have a two-fold subject of discourse : to wit, and it is to be a universal thing foretold and prophesied; first, God's general good will; and, 2ndly, his special good to wit, that “swords are to be beaten into plow-shares, will. His good will wherein il doth appear and is expressed and spears into pruning-hooks, and that men should learn towards men generally and indefinitely considered ; and war no more," when once the peaceful tendency of the his good will in its more peculiar expressions, and exerkingdom of the Messiah doth reach its final and full effect; tions of itself towards a select sort of men. And so two when it hath effect according to its tendency, so that, at things to be evinced. the same time that the earth shall be filled with the know- 1. That God's good will, it hath some reference unto ledge of God, as the waters cover the seas, then is there to all. But, be that universal peace on earth too, among men towards 2. That it hath not equal reference to all alike. There one another; not only no more hurting or destroying in will be that two-fold subject of discourse distinctly to be all the mountain of his holiness, but nation shall not list pursued. And the former of these I chiefly intend from up sword or hand against nation, and men shall be un-ihis scripture; the latter I intend from another more suittaught that fierceness of nature, which a continued enmily able scripture, against God had inferred on them; for when the union But, in the mean time, pray well inlay this in your own was once broken between God and man, it must appear, minds, that there are two such distinct sorts of divine they must be made to understand and know to their cost, good will, or benignity, respecting men generally, and rethat that was central. And that union being dissolved, all specting some men especially; and ihat these two are by union was dissolved besides, that they can never be at no means in the world opposed to one another. The dopeace one with another, when they have broken with God, ing of which, as it is a most unreasonable thing in itself, and the breach remains belween him and them. Accord so it is a thing of the worst consequences that can be suping to what was emblematically held forth in reference to posed ; that is, it tends to confound the whole Christian God, and the people of Israel and Judah ; that is, by the economy, to break the frame of Christianity, and make it two staves of Beauty and of Bands; the staff of Beauty an unintelligible scheme, as incoherent with itsell; and signifying the union between him and them; and the staff this withont any pretence, or shadow of a pretence. For of Bands the union between them with one another. But these two things-general good will, and special good when one of these staves is broken, the other is shivered will; or as the generality of divines are wont to distinand shaken all to pieces.
guish, common and special grace; these two, I sav, are Why, this is the import of what is here proclaimed, the l as distinguishable things, and as capable of being distinctly
apprehended, as the general and special natures of any | the truth in this matter : for that is clear in itself, shines in thing else that we can think of.
its own light; and indeed as to this part of God's general Now nothing could be more absurd to pretend, that be- good will to men, or that which is usually called common cause I have the notion of such and such a general nature, grace, I can have no adversary, we bave none to oppose us therefore, I must not admit the notion of a special nature, in this thing, except atheists. It is true indeed, as to the that is narrower than that; and superadds distinguishing other part, (his special grace,) there we have very subtle to the former. As if when a person hath understood that adversaries; and when we come to that part, I do hope, God hath made such a sort of creatures as we are wont to through God's assistance, we shall be enabled to maintain call animals, living creatures, (that being the notion of a the truth against them. But here my more principal living creature at large,) that therefore, I should pretend design is, to let you see, by the arguments I shall allege, there should be a difficulty of understanding the nature of (which will clear the truth ioo,) the mighty importance of man, one particular under that general; because I have what we are now asserting, and to what purpose it is that the notion of a living creature taken at large, to wit, a we ought to assert this general good will of God to men. creature that useth sense, that can see, and hear, and ex- | Indeed, that we shall have occasion more distinctly to erciseth spontaneous motion, can move this way and show, when we come to the use. But I shall hint some that, ibis, therefore, should be an hinderance to me in con- of the more eminent purposes now, that it may the more ceiving the special nature of man, a nobler sort of creature, engage the attention of all our minds unto what is to be that can do all this and something else; to wit, can rea- | insisted on to this purpose son and understand, and lay designs and pursue them, and It will be of most direct use to convince, and (if it will is a subject susceptible of religion too, as well as ratiocina- seem good to God so far as to bless his word) to mollify the tion ; would any man of ordinary understanding pretend an hearts of hardened sinners that have yet nothing of special inconsistency between these two; or that I cannot fitly grace appearing to them, or in them, so as to make way conceive the one sort of nature, because I do conceive the for that, it being God's course to work methodically; and other ? Because I do conceive the general notion of a to make things, which have an aptitude thereto, subservient living creature, an animal taken at large, therefore, I can unto other things, that are to be consequent thereupon. the less conceive or take in the special notion of a par. It would certainly induce any, that would use their licular sort of living creatures, that can do more than an thoughts, to look upon it as a black and horrid thing 10 ordinary living creature, taken at large.
| be, in the course of my life, with an obstinate, obdurate And the difficulty is not greater if we carry the matter heart fighting continually against goodness itsell, and higher or further, and consider that man, as man, having against kindness and good will. the natural image of God upon him, as such, may be con- And it is of mighty importance, too, for the relieving ceived accordingly. And so that object, God's natural of awakened and doubting souls, that may be hurried with image remaining in him, terminates a general divine be- , terrors and temptations about their state God-wards; and pignity. And consider, also, the same sort of creatures who, though (it may be) special grace hath taken place in having likewise somewhat beyond and superadded to the them, yet think it hath not; so as to let them see what remere natural image of God, to wit, his holy image; this is lief is yet in their case, (as black as it looks to be,) while the effect, (wherever it is, as the case of 'man is now be- they are under the dispensation of more general and comcome,) and can be the effect of nothing else, but special mon grace, as hath a leadingness and tendency in it unto grace: but this I only lay before you by the way to that special. which we are to insist upon particularly.
“And there is that too, which will be of general import to all of us, every day, to wit, that we may be brought more to value, and to savour, and relish those mercies which commonly go into the account, and under the
census of common mercies, of which (God knows) we have LECTURE XLV.*
too little sense. It is a most unaccountable absurdity, (that I have often reflected on in my own thoughts,) that
very generally mercies should be thonght less valuable, for Luke ii. 14.
that very reason for which they are the more valuable. And
so it is commonly in reference to those that are called Good will towards men.
common mercies: they are less valued for the self-same
reason for which they should be more valued ; that is, The former branches of this verse, wherein these angels because they come in an ordinary and in a constant course. proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth | As health, because it is constant, or is more ordinary, with peace," have been opened, and something hath been said the most, it may be, it is for that very reason less valued : about this good will towards men, both as it is general and but every body that considers, knows, that for that very special.
reason it is the more valuable. It is better scre to have “Now as to this general good will of God to men, I shall, continual health, than health intermitted. So the use of
1. Labour to evince it to you in an absolute considera our senses, our sight, (for instance, the noblest of all the tion. And then, shall,
rest, because it is a common mercy, therefore it is cheap, 2. Speak in comparison of the way of his dealing with and of less account with the most. How great a thing another sort of offending creatures, of a higher and nobler would it be thought, if a man should see but one hour in order than men. Now,
the day! How would the return of that hour be longed 1. To evince this general good will to men, according for! Or if but one day in the year; O when will that day to the absolute consideration that is to be had of it, I shall come! We need to have the value enhanced more with make use of two sorts of mediums or arguments to that us of such things as are indications of God's good will purpose.
towards men in general, that they may have their due (1.) Of such as are antecedent to a more express Gospel weight with us, and that grateful savour and relish in onr revelation ; and which will therefore respect them that spirits which they challenge. And let us, therefore, have not the Gospel, or that never had it. And,
* 1. Upon such considerations go on to take notice of (2.) Such as may be taken from the Gospel itself, of those arguments of the first rank, those which lie without which you have a summary, an epitome, in this same the compass of the Gospel revelation, that were antecedent angelical proclamation from heaven; it seeming suitable to that more explicit revelation of it, and do fill a larger to the majesty of God, to make his angels, though not sphere and region than that whither the Gospel light difthe ordinary ambassadors, yet the extraordinary ones, of fuses and extends itself: for though it be true that the text this gracious declaration of his mind and counsel towards hath a special reference to that glorious revelation which men.
was now to commence, we are not to think that this good But as to both these sorts of arguments, I have this to will was then first to commence, as if God did then but advertise you, that the main thing I shall propose to my begin more distinctly and explicitly to own it, and speak self in alleging them, will not be so much the evincing of it out; but there were not obscure indications of it before
* Preached January 19th, 1695.
and which did commonly obtain all the world over, even 2. This good will of God towards men, is to be further there where Gospel light obtained not.
argued from his continuing of man (though apostate, I shall therefore, in speaking to that head of arguments, ihough revolted from him) in possession of those original show what it is that men might collect (if they would use excellencies of his nature, that were most essential to it, their thoughts and understandings aright) from such ap- through the several successions of time so long. That is, pearances of divine favour towards them. And because as lo such excellencies as are essential to the nature of ihat the reasonings of men may be looked upon as having i man, these he is pleased to continue man in the possession an uncertainty in them, a sort of lubricity, and that we of from age to age, and from generation to generation, cannot with so much clearness conclude from mere argu- though he be a revolted apostate creature. He might have ings that are to be fetched from principles that lie without transformed him into anoiher thing. Men might have prothe compass of Scripture; lest any one should think them duced monsters from one generation to another, and ibat ingrm upon thal account, I shall show you, as we go along, as a mark of divine severity, for that once they did aroshow Scripture doth strengthen the same sort of arguments; latize. Into what a horrid thing might man have been and how we are directed and prompted even by Scripture turned upon the first transgression; and so this habitable itself, to make use of them to the same purposes. And world be inhabited only by creatures that should be terrors that which I shall insist on, is,
to themselves, and one to another! 1. The very nature of God, whereof all men that have It may be said, that they are turned into worse than the use of their understandings, have or are capable of monsters by sin; and it is very true, they are so. But that having some notion or other. For he hath stamped more is their own production, and not God's; so they have made or less of his nature upon the very nature of man, upon themselves, that is true: they are in a moral sense monthe human nature that carries in it a signature of God. sters; but so they are their miscreants; they might have There is somewhat that may be known of God in men been so in a natural sense, and that could have been no generally. But there is no notion of God that is more injury or reflection upon the Author of their nature. Merely obvious unto any that do apprehend the existence of a natural evil is justly punitive of, and doth animadvert upon, Deity at large, than that he is the best of beings, the first that which is moral. seat of all goodness, kindness, and benignity. And this But that it is not so; that man should be still, as to his revelation of God, though it be natural, it is from himself, naturals, the same intelligent creature that he was ; that he who is the author of all pature, and of this very nalure in should from age to age appear upon the stage of this earth, special; the immediate author, the author so as to be the with a mind and understanding capable of comprehending exemplar of it to the human nature; that is a God-like so great things; that this understanding power shonld be nature in its first origination. And we are confirmed in so many ways improvable ; that the soul to which it beit, that is not a false conception of God which we find to longs should be so commodiously lodged in a tabernacle have obtained generally in the pagan world, Optimus so curiously wrought by divine art, with Goil's own hand, Maximus, that hath been the common heathen language and all the parts and members thereof written in his book : concerning him. But this is an impression from himself a contemplation that put the Psalmist into a transport, apon the mind of man, by which he is taught and in- / "Fearfully and wonderfully was I made, and that my soul structed, even by nature itself, so to conceive of him. knoweth right well. And how precious are thy thoughts
And he speaks agreeably hereunto of himself, when he to me, O God!" They were these thoughts that he was tells us his name. There is this sculpture, this signature reflecting on, concerning the very frame, and make, and of his name upon the minds of men every where, till men nature of man, in that 1391h Psalm, and which he conhave studiously and industriously abolished and razed it siders in so high a rapture of spirit. out, wbich yet totally they cannot do neither; not so, but We are encompassed with wonders, and we take no nothat the remainders of such a notion as this, cleaving to tice of them; that such creatures as we should spring up their minds, do fill their souls with so much the more in a succession, a noble sort of creatures, God-like-bearhorror by intervals, that they have been lately engaged in ing the natural image of God upon us. Thus it is with a course of wickedness, and in an hostility even against man; though revolied, yet God lets him live upon this the best of beings, against Goodness itself. Those pangs earth, and propagate, and continue his kind. Let him which such do find at such times in their own spirits from (saith he) wear my image, to put him in mind, and that a secret and remaining suspicion, that when they have they may put one another in mind, whence they were, and done all they can to think God out of being, they have who was the original of life and being to him, and of that been but rolling a returning stone; they have been but nature which they have: a strange indulgence, and a most labouring for the wind; they can effect nothing when the emphatical argument of the divine benignity, that he will thoughts return upon them, when in spite of them they let such creatures go up and down in this world, with his must be yet constrained to conceive with a certain formido, image upon them, though they have fallen from him, and that God is, though it may have been the wish of their are universally engaged in a war and hostility against hearts, O that he were not! then the main engine of their him! lorture must be the apprehended goodness of God. For, I You have heard, heretofore, (and I hope generally have
Do bul consider if indeed he is, (whom we would sain not forgotten, at least cannot be ignorant,) of the necessary think into nothing if it were possible,) then it cannot be distinction of the natural image of God and the moral. but he must excel in goodness; the first thing conceptible | Andihis is the wonder, that where the moral image of God in bis nature, must be goodness. Mere philosophy hath is gone, men have put it away and blotted it out, that vet taught men so to think of God, to think of the God, as a the natural remains. And God lets it be so, and let such notion antecedent unto that of power and might. They a sort of creatures still descend, and possess, and inhabit place that in the very summitude of all that excellency, this world ; minds, spirits, so commodiously lodged in so which they ascribe to the Divine Being. And so when God aptly figured tabernacles of flesh, where they have so many himself will expressly tell us his name, the Lord, The Lord organs for the use and improvement of the reasonable and God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant immorial mind, that is put into those tabernacles as the in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, inhabitant; by which it can exercise sense, and take in all and sin; though he will in no wise clear the guilly-a the light, and lustre, and glory of this world, and enjoy thing most consistent with the most excellent goodness ; | the sensitive objects wherewith it is so variously replenishfor that goodness were fatuity, were stolidity, that were , ed. A continual argument of God's benignity and good unaccompanied with such a severity, that were unexpres- will towards men; but especially that he continues him an sive of it. So he speaks of himself, who best knows bis intelligent understanding creature upon this earth. A thing own nalure, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7, 8. And the Scripture is full that pagans have been apprehensive of with gratitude; and of it elsewhere. That there is such a natural notion as it is a shame that we should not consider it more. It is this generally obtaining in the minds of men, is above all that which history hath transmitted 10 us, concerning that demonstration, -that it cannot but be so, that it must be noble pagan, Plato, that when he lay a dying, he solemnly so; for what is universal, must proceed from a universal gave God thanks that he had made him a man, and not a cause; but there is no universal cause, but God alone. beast; and that he had made him a Grecian, and not a And then,
I barbarian; and that he had made him to live in the time
wherein Socrates lived, who was so great a luminary in Their own guilt; whereof, since man hath been a sinhis time.
ner, he hath had some natural conscience of guilt always But how great things have we to recount as additional accompanying him. And more or less men bare conto the human nature. The human nature itself is that sciences accusing and excusing, by turns, as the matter which I am now principally pointing at, as an argument to lies in view before us, Romans ii. 15. Now let recourse us of God's good will towards men, that he lets men con- be had to that topic of men's own guiltiness, that hath detinue, as to their natural being, what they were through so served ill at the hands of God; this is a common notion many ages wherein they have been in an apostacy from him, with men. Many of your heathens, though they do not and rebellion against him; especially when we consider know how the apostacy came about, have generally granted that it is improvable; for religion hath its ground, its that man was in a state of apostacy; that he is not in the foundation in humanity, in the human nature; otherwise, state that he was at first made in, but in a degenerate sina brute or a stone might be a capable subject of religion. ful state ; and it is spoken of as a thing common to me, But inasmuch as God doth continue the human nature, what I noted to you but now, out of Romans ii. 15. that and make that descend, he doth thereby continue capable they carry accusing consciences about with them. I say, subjects of religion, and capable subjects of blessedness; then, do but consider that topic, and from hence go to the since religion and selicity are the two most connatural other, that of the divine power: and nothing is more obvithings to one another in all the world. And thus Scripture ous to men, (if they will use their thoughts,) than to condoth also teach us to recount with ourselves; to consider, sider this, that he that made such a world as this, can to deduce, and make our collections from it; when it tells easily right himself upon such creatures as we are in a mo us of the spirit that is in man, and that the inspiration of ment, at his pleasure. Then lay but these two things to the Almighty gives him understanding, to make him wiser gether, (which are obvious to common apprehension, that than the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the field. And we are guilty creatures, and he is omnipotent God; we when we are elsewhere told that the spirit of a man is the have deserved that he should severely animadvert upon us, candle of the Lord, searching into the inward parts of the and he can do it at pleasure; hath it in his power io do it belly; to wit, into the most abstruse and hidden things, when he will; and yet we are spared. What doth all this those that are most recondite within a man's self. And, l signify, but a continual miracle of divine patience? And again,
what is that to be resolved into, but divine goodness ? 3. This is a further argument of God's good will towards “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and long suffermen generally considered, that they are taught and prompi- ing, not knowing that the goodness of God should lead ed even by nature itself, to consider and look upon God as thee to repentance ?" some way related to them; to look upon him as, upon a When we argue from hence to persuade sinners to turn natural account, a father to them. For this is a true ac-unto God, do we argue from a feigned thing? Is it not a count. It is true, also, that there is a more special notion great reality from which we are thus directed to argue, under which he is so to some, as we shall have occasion when the Scripture itself gives us the direction ? It teaches hereafter to show; but he is so in a common notion too. men so to consider the matter themselves, as in that ? So natural light hath taught men to account and reckon Peter iii. 9, 10.“ The Lord is not slack concerning his when they have spoken of God as the paternal mind. They promise, as some men count slackness; but he is longhave considered ihemselves as all having minds, and they suffering, not willing that any should perish; but that have conceived of the divine mind as the paternal mind, they may come to the knowledge of the truth, and be the Father of all those minds. They have spoken of them saved." And we are to account the long-suffering of the selves as God's offspring, and you see the scripture quotes Lord salvation. What doth he bear with an offending that from one of their writers, and approves and justifies creature for, in so continued a course, when he bath so the notion, Acts xvii. 28. "We are all his offspring, as many advantages against him so many thunderbolts in one of your own poets hath affirmed.” The thing is true, 1 command at a moment? Why doth he spare, when the (saith he,) your own poets have spoken thus concerning creature is guilty, and he is mighty? And yet he spares: men, that they are the offspring of God: and they have ap what judgment is to be made of all this? Why, the aposprehended the matter aright; they are so, he is upon a na ile tells you : Count the long-suffering of the Lord salvatural account a Father to them: as Adam is said to be the tion; to wit, that he doth use this method as an apt meson of God on the same account.
dium, as a proper means to bring men to consider: and And it is a conception that carries a gleam of light with if they will not consider, they are loading themselves with it, that God should style himself the Father of spirits, but guilt, so much the more, when they will not consider what more particularly the God of the spirits of all flesh, as in is so obvious, what lies so much in view before them. that Numbers xxvii. 16. It is true, that he is in a more And I might add, again, this further argument from particular way and sense the God of some. But they are 5. The common exercise of God's bounty towards the his own words, to call himself also the God of all, of all children of men; that is, that he doth not only spare, but spirits that inhabit and dwell in flesh. He doth not call sustain them; not only withhold and keep off from them himself the God of another sort of spirits, that inhabit not destructive evils, but supply them needful good things. flesh, that have sinned against him, that are apostate spi- That he should preserve this world in so much consiste rits; (as the spirits of men also are;) but he calls himself ency, for the use and entertainment of offending and rebelthe God of the spirits of all flesh, implying, that he hath lious creatures, those that seldom or never take notice of not universally abandoned the spirits of men. As if he him, and rarely ever give him thanks. That this earth should have said, “I do not renounce, I do not quit all should be so strangely fertile, through all the successions claim to them, I have affairs to transact with them, as I of time,and productive of so delicious things, so pleasant have not with those other spirits, that are thrown out of my things; not only such things as are necessary for the support sight, and bound up in chains of darkness, and reserved to of human life, but such things as are delectable too, yieldthe judgment of the great day ;" as I shall have occasion ing a pleasing entertainment to man during his residence more directly to spek, when I come to speak of God's good | and abode here. Oh, the riches of the divide goodness towill to men, considered comparatively with the course of wards apostate, degenerate, fallen creatures! These very his dispensation towards that other order of apostate crea- | things have a ducture, a leadingness with them. When tures. And,
God doth immediately please and gratify sense, there is an 4. The constant exercise of God's patience is a great ar- aptitude in this to instruct minds to reach the understandgument of his good will towards men. This is that where- | ings of men, to oblige and prompt men to consider whence of they not only have a notion in their minds, comprehended all this is, and upon what terms, and for what ends and and included in that common notion of his benignity and purposes. goodness, but they have experience of it in fact, and it is There are divers other things congenerous to these, which from that I am now arguing: and it is a mighty cogent I cannot go through with now, as the continual care that and convictive argument of God's good will, if it be but he takes of men's lives, that he hath put a self-preserving considered what men have to argue from, in reference here- principle into men. It is true, that is natural, but how unto, especially these two topics, their own guilt and God's came it to be so? It is from the Author of all nature, he power.
could have made (if he had pleased) the contrary as natu