« PreviousContinue »
There must be a difcovery of the infinite glory of God.
IN the fecond place, As there must be a difco
very of the real nature, fo alfo of the infinite glory of God. He muft not only be seen to be juft fuch a Being as he really is, but there muft be a fenfe of the infinite worth, beauty, and perfection of his character. Thefe two things, though intimately connected, are yet fo diftinct from one another, as to deferve to be separately confidered. The first is neceffary, but it is not fufficient alone, or by itself. There can be no true religion, unless there be a difcovery of the real nature of God. But though there be a knowledge of what God is, unlefs there be alfo a discovery of the excellence and glory of this nature, he can never be the object of esteem and love. It is one thing to know, and another to approve; and, whilft this laft is not the cafe, whatever we may know or affirm, or be perfuaded of, with relation to the Supreme Being, we do not know him to be God, nor can poffibly glorify him as God. This momentous truth we may furely comprehend, by what is analogous to it in our experience, between created natures. Speculative knowledge and love are by no means infeparable. Men may truly know many things I 4 which
which they fincerely hate; they may hate them even because they know them: and, when this is the cafe, the more they know them they will hate them with the greater virulence and rancour. This not only may, but always must take place, when natures are opposite one to another, the one finful, for example, and the other holy. The more they are known, the more is their mutual hatred ftirred up, and their perfect oppofition to each other becomes, if not more violent, at least more fenfible.
We have little reason to doubt that the fallen angels, thofe apoftate fpirits, have a great degree of fpeculative knowledge. I would not, indeed, take upon me to affirm that they are free from error and mistake of every kind, yet it seems highly probable that they have a clear, though, at the fame time, a terrible apprehenfion of "what" God is; for they have not the fame opportunities, or the fame means of deceiving themfelves, that we have in the prefent ftate. But do they love him, or fee his excellence and glory? Very far from it. They believe and tremble; they know God, and blafpheme. The more they know of him the more they hate him; that is to fay, their inward, native, habitual hatred is the more strongly excited, and the more fenfibly felt.
The cafe is much the fame with fome finners, when firft awakened, and it continues to be the fame fo long as they are kept in bondage and terror. They have an awful view of the holiness of God's nature, of the ftrictnefs of his law, and the greatness of his power. This is directly levelled against their own corrupt inclinations, and carries nothing with it but a sentence of condemnation against them: "Curfed is every one that "continueth not in all things which are written " in the book of the law, to do them *." This brings forth their enmity, which before, perhaps, lay hid. It is remarkable, that some perfons of loofe and diforderly lives, will fometimes maintain, at ftated feafons, a profeffion of piety. So long as they can keep their confciences still and quiet by general indistinct notions of God, as very ealy and gentle, no way inclined to punish, they think of him without averfion, nay, will go through fome outward forms with apparent fatisfaction and delight. Their notion of divine mercy is not a readinefs to pardon the greatest finner on repentance, but a difpofition to indulge the finner, and wink at his continuance in tranfgreffion. No fooner are fuch perfons brought to a difcovery of the real character of a holy God, than their thoughts of him are entirely changed. They have gloomy views of his
nature, and harsh thoughts of his providence ; they fret at the ftrictness of his law, and, as far as they dare, complain of the tyranny of his government. Their fentiments are the fame with thofe expreffed by the men of Bethshemesh: "Who is able to ftand before this holy Lord "God, and to whom fhall he go up from 66 *"
I cannot help obferving, that here we are, if I may speak fo, at the very fountain-head of erWhat is it else that makes many frame to themselves new and flattering schemes of religion, that makes them imagine a God so extremely different from that holy Being he is represented in his own word? When men will not conform their practice to the principles of pure and undefiled religion, they fcarce ever fail to endeavour to accommodate religion to their own practice. Are there not many who cannot endure the representation of God as holy and jealous, which is given us in fcripture? With what violence do they oppose themselves to it by carnal reasonings, and give it the moft odious and abominable names? The reafon is plain. Such a view of God fets the oppofition of their own hearts to him in the strongest light. Two things oppofite in their nature cannot be approved at once, and, therefore, the confequence is, God or themselves
1 Sam. vi 20,
must be held in abhorrence. But we have reafon to blefs God, that their refiftance to the truth is only a new evidence and illuftration of it, fhewing that "the carnal mind is enmity "against God; for it is not subject to the "law of God, neither indeed can be *." And as this enmity to God difcovers itself in oppofition to his truth on earth, it will become much more violent, when further refiftance is impoffible. When an unregenerate finner enters upon a world of fpirits, where he has a much clearer fight and greater fenfe of what God is, his inherent enmity works to perfection, and he blafphemes like thofe devils with whom he must for ever dwell.
From all this it will evidently appear, that there must be a difcovery of the glory and beauty of the divine nature, an entire approbation of every thing in God, as perfectly right and abfolutely faultlefs. It is felf evident, that without this, there cannot be a fupreme love to God, in which true religion properly confifts; no man can love that which doth not appear to be lovely. But I further add, that this is abfolutely neceffary to the very beginning of the change, or the foundation on which it is built. It is neceffary, in order to any genuine, falutary convictions of fin. What is it elfe but a difco