Page images

whole Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, to hearken to what the Lord God says concerning himself. He calls to them, and requires them to hear bim_"hear, O Israel;" by which means it becomes a matter of duty, and we are indispensably bound to attend to this revelation of his will. He has not left us at liberty to think what we please about his essence and his personality, because he has revealed what we are to believe about both. And it was necessary he should do this, because there is no religion without a God, and no true religion without the true God. How should we know what religious service to perform, if we were ignorant of the proper object of worship? It being absolutely necessary that we should know God, the knowledge of him is therefore revealed and settled in the first part of the greatest commandment. We are not left to reasoning about the being of God from the light of nature, or from philosophy, or metaphysics, but the scripture has fixed our creed, and we must abide by it; otherwise we cannot keep the following parts of the text; we cannot love God and our neighbour aright, unless we first know what God is. Since this is a materiał point in our present inquiry, and not thoroughly un. derstood, I will endeavour to prove the necessity of séttling the proper object of worship, before the worship due to him can be paid. It is very certain there can be no salvation without belief in God. An atheist cannot be saved. He that cometh to God must believe that he is, but the atheist denies his very being, denies that God is, and thereby withdraws all allegiance from him. Now if a man cannot be saved without believing in God, consequently he cannot be saved without believing in the true God : for a false God is no God at all; it is a mere idol, a nothing in the world. Whoever pays his service and worship to this false God is an idolator, and guilty of high treason against the supreme majesty of heaven. If any of you, who owe your allegiance to king George, were to go to Rome and pay it to the Pretender, in

what light would the law consider your proceeding? Would not it try you for a capital offence, and if found guilty, would not it deprive you of your fortune and life? The law of the most high God treats those who withdraw their allegiance from him in the same manner, having already passed sentence upon them, and decreed that idolators shall not inherit the kingdom of Christ, and of God.

Since then the true object of worship must first be known, before we can worship him aright, how are we to come to the knowledge of him ? This is the next step in our present inquiry. And who shall determine this point for us? What authority shall we abide by ? Shall scripture or reason decide? If scripture be judge, its determination is clear. What words can be plainer than these are? “ Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? No; it is high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea"-Job, xi. 7, 8, 9,entirely out of the reach of our faculties. The reason of this is assigned in Matth. xi. 27: knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom

soever the Son will reveal him.” No man therefore, : be he ever so wise and learned, knoweth God the

Father, but by the revelation of his Son. And to this agree the words of the apostle, I. Cor. i. 21– “ the world by wisdom knew not God.” The world, by such wisdom as it could attain, was not able to discover the true God.

If these testimonies of holy writ be not suffered to determine the point, it is not because they are of doubtful interpretation, for words cannot speak plainer; but because


would have the matter tried be. fore some other judge. Well, then, let us hear what reason says: but we will not hearken to its proud boastings of what it can discover; we will examine matter of fact, and inquire what it has discovered.

66 No man

Did reason ever find out God, and did any reasoners ever find out the Almighty to perfection? Who were the men, when, where did they live? In the refined and enlightened ages of Greece? Tell us, ye disputers of this world, did your Aristotle, or any of his followers, with their subtle reasoning, attain to the knowledge of God? It is an undoubted truth, that they did not. And did any of the other of the Greek philosophers succeed better in their inquiries ? No, not one of them. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and fell into gross idolatry along with the ignorant vulgar: for they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts and creeping things. But if the Greeks failed, did not the learned Romans find out God ? No, not one of them ever discovered what God was. The Roman philosophers, aided and assisted with all the discoveries of the Greeks, yet remained as ignorant of God as they had been. Tully has left us a curious treatise

upon the nature of the gods, in which he has demonstrated the apostle's proposition, that the world by wisdom knew not God: for in this volume there is not a conjecture or a hint about the nature of the true God. After the fruitless inquiries of such a genius, I need not bring any other arguments to prove that the Romans, with all their learning and refinement, knew not God. Their reason was not equal to the task. And where shall we find greater reasoners ?

Did any man ever make a better use of his reasoning faculties than Tully ? and yet, with all his searching, he could not find out God. In these instances we see the utmost stretch of reason, and what it can discover. Indeed it boasts great things, and pretends, by the help of metaphysics, to discover the secrets of the spiritual world ; but these are vain boastings. Matter of fact disproves them: for there was not one reasoner in Greece or Rome who discovered the true God. Those men came the nearest to the truth who erected an altar to the unknown God;

by which they held forth and exposed the weakness of human reason, since in one of the most famous universities of the heathen world the philosophers worshipped an unknown God. How weak and groundless, then, are the boastings of our modern unbelievers, who pretend to discover what God is by the mere diut of reason? What have our Arians and deists discovered of him? Do they know more of God than the philosophers did? No; they have indeed greater helps, but by rejecting them their pride is greater, and their ignorance appears more manifest: for they have left revelation, and have invented to themselves as empty an idol as any heathen philosopher ever worshipped. They reject the Godhead of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, and have imagined to themselves a god existing in one person, infinitely extended, filling infinite space, with many other such like chimerical attributes.

tes. And this idol, this nothing in the world, is become the fashionable divinity of our times; but its worshippers are all traitors. Every act of worship paid to this idol is high treason; for by such act men withdraw their allegiance from the true God, and pay it to what has no more divinity than stocks and stones. And ought not the servants of the most high God kindly to admonish their fellowcreatures of their guilt, when they see them seduced by this dangerous heresy? And if the watchmen give them not warning, will they not be partakers with them in their sins? If we hold our peace, they will perish, but their blood will God require at our hands. So that as well for the sake of our own souls, as of theirs, we ought to speak plainly upon this subject, and bring it to a matter of self-examination. Let each of us put these questions to himself: Is it so, then, that there can be no true worship or love of God, unless it be paid to the true God-have I then the right object of worship for my God? How was I brought to the knowledge of him? for this is the best way to discover the certainty of what I think I know of him. Did I find him out by the light of

and ye

reason? And did metaphysics help me to find him out to perfection? If I have taken this method I have been deceiving myself, for the world by its reason never found out God. Or was I brought to the knowledge of him in this way-was I convinced of sin, and humbled under a sense of it, and did I then find myself fallen from God, and alienated from the life of God, so that I had no means of discovering his nature and perfections, but as revealed by his word and by his Spirit? Did I read the word, and pray for the Holy Spirit to open and to explain it, that Í might come to the knowledge of the only true God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent? And am I still in this humble, teachable frame of mind, reading the word, and praying for the teachings of the Spirit of God? If this be your case, happy are ye. God has promised, and his word cannot be broken. Ask

shall have. Ask, and ye shall have this great promise of the new covenant fulfilled to you-Jer. xxxi. 34: 6 And they shall no more teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord." He will teach you the knowledge of himself, and will manifest to you his essence and his personality. You shall know him as he has been pleased to reveal him- . self in the text, in which we have the whole of what is contained in the sacred volume: for here he de. clares what his essence is-he is one Jehovah ; and what the persons in this one Jehovah are—they are Alehim; Jehovah our Alehim is one Jehovah. This proposition is one of the deep things of God, which he hath revealed unto us by his Spirit, and which contains more than can be written in many volumes, Each word has a rich copiousness, and explains to us many treasures of divine truth. May that Lord and God, in whom are laid all the riches of

grace and knowledge, open them to you at this time, that you may understand the will and mind of the Lord in his great and glorious name, Jehovah !


« PreviousContinue »