Page images
PDF
EPUB

"in his prefence." It is the error of the wicked to suppose the contrary; and, indeed, it is the very source of wickedness to deny the being, or to deny the holiness of God; and these amount much to the fame thing. "Wherefore doth the "wicked contemn God; he hath said in his heart "thou wilt not require it *.-The fool hath "faid in his heart, There is no God +.-Thefe "things thou haft done, and I kept filence; "thou thoughteft that I was altogether fuch an "one as thyself, but I will reprove thee, and "fet them in order before thiné eyes ."

God must be seen as he is reprefented in his own word, which is the only rule of faith, the pillar and ground of truth. This is a matter of the greatest importance, which, I am forry to fay, is in this age very feldom attended to, but which is most manifeftly and undeniably juft. If God is not feen in his real nature, as he is in truth, he can never be acceptably ferved. If a wrong or false character of God is formed, no worship we can offer to him, no love or respect we can bear to him is genuine ; or rather, to fpeak more properly, our fervice and attachment is, in that cafe, wholly mifplaced, and not directed to him at all, but fomething elfe is loved, honoured, and ferved in his room. I beseech the serious reader to obferve, what an unspeakable * Pfal. x. 13. † Pfal, xiv. I.

Pfal. 1. 21.

jealoufy

jealoufy God difcovered under the Old Teftament difpenfation, as to the purity of his worship, and what a heinous crime all idolatry was esteemed. How great was the divine displeasure at the making and worshipping the golden calf, although it is very probable Aaron only intended to reprefent the true God, by the fame fymbol they had seen in Egypt? Did not this belong to the fubftance, and not only to the circumstances of religion? Is it not then equally interefting under the New Teftament as under the Old? Was the unchangeable God fo much displeased at giving him a false name, and will he not be equally difpleased with those who attribute to him a falfe nature?

As this truth ferves to explain the nature and rife of regeneration, fo it also receives particular light and evidence itself from what has been faid in the preceding parts of this subject. Regeneration confifts in having the image of God again drawn upon the heart; that is, its being carried out to the supreme love of God, and delight in him or, in other words, brought to the fupreme love of, and delight in, perfect goodness and immaculate holinefs. When this is the cafe, the finner is renewed, he again bears the image of God, which he had loft, he is again fitted for the prefence of God, from which he had been expelled. But if he has wrong notions of God, if

he

he takes him to be effentially different from what he really is, he ferves not the true God at all, he bears not his image, he delights not in his fellowship, he is unfit for his prefence. If religion confifts in a divine nature, fuch a person does not poffefs it, unless there are more Gods than one. There may, indeed, be an alteration in him, he may have transferred his allegiance, and changed his master, for idols are many, but he is not brought unto God; and, fo long as God is immutable, his happiness is impoffible.

I can recollect nothing that is worth notice as an objection against this, but that our knowledge. of God, at any rate, is extremely imperfect and defective. It is fo to be fure, while we are in this world; nay, probably, it will be fo to all eternity for who can by fearching find out God? "Who can find out the Almighty unto perfec"tion? It is high as heaven, what can we do? "Deeper than hell, what can we know? The "measure thereof is longer than the earth, and "broader than the fea *." But there is a great difference between the imperfection of our knowledge of God, and forming conceptions of him that are fundamentally wrong. There is a great difference between having weak and inadequate ideas of the truth, and believing or acting upon the oppofite falfhood. Unless this is admitted,

Job xi. 7, 8, 9.

we

66

we shall never fee the unspeakable advantage which the Jews enjoyed over the Gentiles," be"cause to them were committed the oracles of "God;" nor indeed fhall we fee the worth and beauty of the ancient dispensation in general. It was one uniform difplay of this great and important truth, which is delivered with fo much majefty by God himself: "I am the Lord, that is and my glory will I not give to anomy name, "ther, neither my praise to graven images." Neither is this at all relaxed under the New Teftament. The importance of " holding the truth "as it is in Jefus" of " holding faft the form "of found words”—and " keeping the truth," is often declared, as well as that "no lie is of the "truth." And no wonder that in this pure and spiritual conftitution, it should be neceffary to have clear and diftinct views of him who is "the "Father of fpirits."

Thus I hope it appears, that, in order to a faving change, there must be a difcovery of the real nature of the one only, the living and true God. Before we proceed further, let me obferve that hence may be feen, in the cleareft light, the danger both of ignorance, and error.

1. Of ignorance. It is plain that those who are grossly ignorant must be unrenewed. Thofe who do not know God, cannot poffibly love him. Do you not now fee the meaning and weight of

the

the ftrong language of fcripture, where we are told the heathen nations were fitting " in dark

nefs, and in the region and fhadow of death?" What force fhould this give to the prayers fo often offered up, both in public and in private, that the "name" of God may be "hallowed," and his kingdom come? How much fhould it add to the zeal and diligence, especially of those who are appointed to watch for the fouls of others? What concern fhould it give them, left any under their immediate infpection "fhould perifh for "lack of knowledge." It is indeed furprising to think, what grofs ignorance prevails at present among many, notwithstanding the excellent opportunities of inftruction which they have in their offer. Nay, even among thofe who are inftructed in feveral branches of human fcience, it is aftonishing to think what ignorance there is of every thing that relates to religion.

If accident or curiofity has brought this difcourse into the hands of any fuch, let me intreat their attention for a little. I beseech you to think upon, and tremble at your ftate. You may have fome fort of a nominal belief of an unseen, unintelligible being, called God, while you know neither what you speak, nor whereof you af"firm." You may perhaps have heard, or ra ther in our happy native country you cannot but have heard of Chrift Jefus, the Son of God, ftiled

I

« PreviousContinue »