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I. We are to confider, What this foripturen phrase of “ Acquainting ourfelves with God," implies, and wherein the duty recommended by it particularly confifts. The phrase itself occurs, I think, no where else in Holy Writ; however, the true meaning of it is very obvious and easy.
We are prone by nature to engage ourselves in too close and strict an acquaintance with the things of this world, which immediately and strongly ftrike our fenfus ; with the butincís, the pleasures, and the amusements of it; we give ourfelves up too greedily to the pursuit, and immerse ourselves too deeply in the enjoyment of them; and contract at last such an intimacy and familiarity with them, as makes it difficult and irkfome for us to call off our minds to a better employment, and iQ think intensely on any thing belides them. To check and correct this ill tendency, it is requisite that we thould acquaint ourselves with God, that we lhould frequently disengage our hearts from carthly pursuits, and fix them on divine things ; that we thould apply ourfelves to study the blerfed nature and perfections of God, and to procure lively and vigorous impreffions of his perpetual presence with us, and infpection over us ; that we should contemplate eat nestly and reverently the works of nature and grace, by which he manitests himself to us; the inscrutable ways of his providence, and all the wonderful methods of his dealing with the fons of men : That we Nould inure ourselves to fuch thoughts, till they have worked up our souls into that filial awe and love of Him, that humble and in plicit depend.
ence upon Him, which is root and principle of all manner of goodness; till we have made our duty in this refpect, our pleasure, and can addreis ourselves to Him, on all occafions, with readiness and delight; imparting all our wants, and expressing all our fears, and opening all our griefs to Him, with that holy freedom and confi. dence to which the faints and true fervants of God are entitled, having “ received the Spirit of 4 adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father !!! In this sense ought we to acquaint our e ves uith Gad: to set Him always before us, as the scripture elsewhere fpeaks; " to draw near to him, ait to " delight in approaching him.”
But this is only a general account of what our acquaintance with God implies : It may be useful to mention some particulars also, wherein it chiefly confifts; and to say somewhat distinctly upon each of them.
In order to begin, and improve human friendships, Five things are principally requisite; knowledge, access, a fimilitude of manners, an entire confidence and love: and by thefe also the divine friendship, of which we are treating, must be cemented and upheld.
The first step towards an acquaintance with God, is, a due knowledge of him: I mean not a fpeculative knowledge, built on abstracted reasonings about his nature and effence; such as philosophical minds often busy themselves in, without reapá ing from thence any advantage towards regulating their paffions, or improving their manners: But I mean a practical knowledge of those attrio butes of his, which javite us nearly to approach
him, and closely to unite ourselves to him ; a thorough sense, and vital experience of his paternal care over us, and concern for us; of his unSpotied holiness, his inflexible justice, his unerr. ing wisdom, and his difusive goodness; a repre. presentation of him to ourselves, under those affecting characters of a Creator and a Redeemer, an Observer and a Pattern, a Law-giver and a Judge; which are aptest to incline our wills, and to raise our affections toward him, and either to awe or allure us into a stricter performance of every branch of our duty. These, and the like moral and relative perfections of the Deity, are most necessary and most easy to be understood by us; upon the least reflexion and enquiry we cannot miss of them; tho' the oftner and more attentively we consider them, the better and more perfectly still shall we know them.
The acquaintance, thus begun, cannot continue, without frequent access to him; without seeking his face continually (as the good Psalmist's phrafe is) in all the methods of spiritual address: in contemplation and prayer; in his word, and in his ordinances; in the public service of the sanctuary, and in the private devotions of the closet; and chiefly in the latter of these, which are, on several accounts, most use towards promoting this holy correspondence. By these means, and in these duties, is he to be approached, and found; and, notwithstanding our infinite diftance, will “ draw near to them who thus draw “ near to Him," and shew himself to be a God that “is at hand, and not afar off.” But in vain thall we approach him, unless we.
endeavour to be like him: A similitude of nature and manners (in such a degree as we are capable of) must tie the holy knot, and river the friend. ship between us. Whomsoever we desire to approve, we labour also to conform ourselves to; to be “not only almost, but altogether such as they are,” if it be poflible; that so they, seeing themselves in us, may like us, for the sake of themselves. and go out (as it were) to meet and embrace their own image and resemblance. Would we then be admitted into an acquaintance with God ? let us study to resemble him ; we must be “partakers of a divine nature,” in order to partake of this high privilege and alliance ! “ For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ?” .
Yet further, one essential ingredient in all true friendship, is, a firm unshaken reliance on him who is our friend. Have we such towards God? Do we entirely ti ust in him ? Do our souls lean on him, as a child that is weaned of his mother? Do we resign ourselves, and our affairs, absolutely to be dif. posed of by him ? and think all our concerns safer in his hands, than in our own ? and resolve to believ: every thing to be best and fittest for us, which he fees best should befal us! Are we still under his rod, without a murmur? without de. fpondency of mind, and without charging God foolishly? Do we unbosom all our secrets to him, and neither endeavour nor pretend to hide any thing that pafseth in the depth of our hearts from him ? Do we enquire of him for his advice and and aslistance in every thing ? and hearken to
what our Lord God shall say to us, either by the inward whispers of our consciences, or the out. ward ministry of his word or the awakening calls of his providence and give heed diligently to fulfilall the least intimations of his good pleasure, that are any ways made known to us? Then have we entered deep into, and advanced far in, thac holy intimacy which the text recommend : O well it is with us! Happy are we, and shall we be !
However, “ yet one thing more we lack” to be perfect ; Love, which is the fulfilling of this law of friendship, the surest test, and most exalted improvement of it.
Let us consider therefore, whether we do indeed “ love the Lord our God, with all our “ heart, and with all our soul, and with all our « mind, and with all our strength :" Whether our approaches to Him are always sweet and re. freshing; and we are uneasy and impatient under any long discontinuance of our conversation with Him; and retire into our closet from the crowd, in order to meet Him whom our soul loveth, with a pleasure far exceeding theirs, who “ Chant “ to the found of the viol,” and are “joyful in “ the strength of new wine :" whether our hearts burn within us, at the perusal of his holy word; and the relish and favour of it upon our minds be such, as that, in comparison of it, all the most exquisite human composures seem low and mean, flat and infipid to us? whether we have an even and ever-burning zeal for his honour and service; and are always contriving somewhat, and doing somewhat, to promote his intereft, without any immediate regard to our own? Whether we de