« PreviousContinue »
SECT. II. . There must be a discovery of the infinite glory of Godi
IN the second place, As there must be a disco
very of the real nature, so also of the infinite glory of God. He must not only be seen to be juft such a Being as he really is, but there must be a sense of the infinite worth, beauty, and perfection of his character. These two things, though intimately connected, are yet so distinct from one another, as to deserve to be separately considered. The first is necessary, but it is not sufficient 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, unless there be also a discovery of the excellence and glory of this não ture, he can never be the object of esteem and love. It is one thing to know, and another to approve; and, whilst this last is not the case, whatever we may know or affirm, or be persuaded of, with relation to the Supreme Being, we do not know him to be God, nor can possibly glorify him as God. This momentous truth we may surely 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
which they fincerely hate; they may hate them even because they know them: and, when this is the case, 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 sinful, for example, and the other holy. The more they are known, the more is their mutual hatred stirred up, and their perfect opposition to each other becomes, if not more violent, at least more sensible..
We have little reason to doubt that the fallen angels, those apoftate spirits, have a great degree of speculative 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 same time, a terrible apprehension of “ what” God is; for they have not the same opportunities, or the same means of deceiving themselves, that we have in the present state. But do they love him, or see his excellence and glory? Very far from it. They believe and tremble ; they know God, and blaspheme. The more they know of him the more they hate him ; that is to say, their inward, native, habitual hatred is the more strongly excited, and the more fenfibly felta
The case is much the same with fome finners,
* Gal. iñ. zo.
nature, and harsh thoughts of his providence ; they fret at the strictness of his law, and, as far as they dare, complain of the tyranny of his government. Their sentiments are the same with those expresfed by the men of Bethshemesh : " Who is able to stand before this holy Lord “ God, and to whom shall he go up from 66 us *."
I cannot help observing, that here we are, if I may speak so, at the very fountain-head of error. What is it else that makes many frame to themselves new and Aattering 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 scarce 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 scripture? With what violence do they oppose themselves to it by carnal reasonings, and give it the most odious and abominable names? The reason is plain. Such a view of God sets the opposition of their own hearts to him in the strongest light. Two things opposite in their nature cannot be approved at once, and, therefore, the consequence is, Gad or themselves • 1 Sam. vii 20,
must be held in abhorrence. But we have reason to bless God, that their resistance to the truth is only a new evidence and illustration of it, shewing 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 discovers itself in oppofision to his truth on earth, it will become much more violent, when further resistance is impoffible. When an unregenerate finner enters upon a world of spirits, where he has a much clearer sight and greater sense of what God is, his inherent enmity works to perfection, and he blafphemes like those devils with whom he must for ever dwell. ' ' · From all this it will evidently appear, that there must be a discovery of the glory and beauty of the divine nature, an entire approbation of every thing in God, as perfectly right and absolutely faultless. It is self evident, that without this, there cannot be a supreme love to God, in which true religion properly confists; no man can love that which doth not appear to be lovely. But I further add, that this is absolutely necessary to the very beginning of the change, or the foundation on which it is built. It is necessary, in order to any genuine, falutary convictions of fin. What is it else but a disco #Rom. viii. 7 .