« PreviousContinue »
selfish, diseased hearts, that are the cause of our quarreling with God, his decrees and providences; and as soon as we come to ourselves and are cured, these odious apprehensions vanish, and God appeareth as the unclouded sun, in the lustre of his amiable goodness: and when we come to heaven, we shall see to our joy, and his glory, that heaven, earth and hell, declare him to be all perfectly good, without any mixture of evil in himself, or in any of his word or works. And we shall find all our sinful suspicions and murmurings turned into a joyful consent to the angelical praises. Psal. cxxxvi. 1. 2. 26. &c.
“O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his mercy is forever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven, for his mercy is forever; Rev. iv. 8. 11. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God
; Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come-Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.Rev. vii. 12. Amen, blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, unto our God for ever and ever, Amen. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy;" Psal. cxlv. 8, 9. 6 The word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth : be loveth righteousness and judgment; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord;" Psal. xxxiii. 4, 5. “O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men;" Psal. xxxi. 19. “Otherefore that men (instead of quarreling with his unknown mysteries) would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men;" Psal. cvii. 8. 15. 21. 31.
In the conclusion, I take it to be wholesome advice to those that are under this temptation :
1. That they will oft read over the Psalms of praise, and think, when they read them, whether David and the ancient church, were not more likely to know what they said, than a self-conceited, or a melancholy tempted sinner?
2. That they would consider, who it is that is the grand enemy of the glory of God's goodness, and they shall soon find that it is none
other than the devil; none but he that is most evil, can most envy Infinite Goodness his honor. And is the devil fit to be believed against God? And that, after the warning of our first parent's ruin, which befel them for believing Satan, when he slandered both God's wisdom, truth, and goodness to them?
3. That they would bethink them to what end it is, that the tempter, and the enemy of God, do thus deny his goodness. Is it not a plain act of malice against God and us? Is it not that he may disgrace God as evil, and rob him of his glory; and also that he may hinder man from loving him, and so destroy all piety, and virtue, and goodness in the world? Who can love him whom he believeth to be bad, and so unlovely? And what grace or happiness can there be without the love of God ?
4. That they would think what horrid wickedness this sin containeth (where melancholy and involuntariness do not extenuate it). Is it any better than a denying that there is any God? As is said before; to be God, is to be perfectly powerful, wise and good : and if there be none such, there can be no God. And then who made the world, and all that is good in it by derivated goodness? Yea, is it not to represent the most amiable blessed God, in Satan's image (“ who is most evil and a murderer from the beginning;" John viïi. 44.) that so men may hate him, and fly from him as they do from devils ? And can you tell how great a crime this is?
5. That they would consider, how this impious conceit is calculated for the licensing of all manner of villany in the world, and to root out all the relics of goodness from among mankind. For who can expect that any man should be better than his Maker, and that he should have any good, who denieth God to be good ?
6. That they would labor hard to be better themselves; for he that hath a true created goodness, is thereby prepared to relish and admire God's primitive uncreated goodness : whereas a wicked or a guilty sinner cannot much value that which he is so unsuitable to, and which he thinks will be to him a consuming fire. “Truly God is good to Israel, and to such as are of a clean heart;" Psal. Ixxij. 1. But he that liveth in the love of sin, will be doubting of the love of God, and fearful of his wrath, and unfit to relish and delightfully
REASONS FOR MINISTERS USING, &c.
perceive his goodness. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him;" Psal. Ixxxiv. 8.
7. Study God's love as manifested in Christ; then you shall see what man on earth may see. But think not falsely, narrowly, or basely of his office, his performance, or his covenant.
8. Dwell in the believing foresight of the celestial glory; the reflections of which may wrap up a believing soul on earth, into ecstasies of gratitude and delight.
9. Remember what goodness there is in the holiness of God, which is demonstrated in his severest justice; yea, what mercy it is to forewarn men of the punishment of sin, that they may want no necessary means to escape it.
10. Remember how unfit the selfish interest of obstinate despisers of grace and salvation is, to be the measure or index of the goodness of God: and how much more credible the concordant testimony of the heavenly host is, who live in the love of Love itself, and are everlastingly delighted in the praises of the infinite greatness, wisdom, and goodness of the most perfect, blessed, glorious God.
FOR MINISTERS USING THE GREATEST PLAINNESS AND SERIOUS
IN ALL THEIR
APPLICATIONS TO THEIR PEOPLE.
To shew the reasonableness that all ministers should deal thus faithfully, and plainly with such as are under their Ministry, I will lay open somewhat of the case before you, and then judge reasonably of it as you are men. The eternal God, delighting in the wonderful diversity of bis creatures, hath made man of a middle nature, between brutes and angels, giving him vital power, reason and freewill. He hath placed him in this world, as for a race or warfare ; resolving that as he behaveth himself it shall go with him in another world for ever: For though his body be dust, and must to dust return, his soul is from above, and liveth in blessedness or misery for ever. By sin we have all forfeited our right to heaven : but Eternal love hath given us a Redeemer, who is God, and man, who as our surety became a sacrifice for our sins, and by his merits hath purchased a conditional grant of free forgiveness, and of renewing grace, and endless glory; and being ascended into heaven, possesseth it in our nature, and intercedeth for us, being now, as Redeemer, Lord of all. He hath appointed the Ministerial office, that men might be his messengers to men, to acquaint them with his grace, and with the glory which he prepareth for them, that they may truly believe it, soberly think of it, duly value it, heartily choose it, and diligently seek it, and live and die in the joyful expectation of it. And as our souls converse not with our neighbors immediately, but in and by our bodies in which they work; so the Spirit of Christ doth not ordinarily work on men's souls without any means, but by his word and works which his ministers must declare. Man is not now put upon satisfying God's justice, or purchasing his salvation by a price. Christ hath done these, and made a free gift of grace and glory to all that will but accept it. Under God's grace, men’s everlasting salvation now lieth on their own wills; no men or devils can damn or undo any one soul, but by his own consent to the cause of his damnation. No men or devils can keep one soul from the heavenly glory, but by tempting him to refuse it, undervalue and neglect it, and prefer the pleasures of sin before it, and by keeping him from loving, desiring and seeking it : for every one shall certainly have it who had rather be a holy Christian on earth, and live in perfect love and joy with God in heaven for ever, than for his filthy pleasure to enjoy the prosperity of this world. To acquaint men with this, is our ministerial office; we are charged to set before them the great salvation which Christ hath procured, and importunately to beseech them to mind it, believe it, and accept it, that it may be theirs for ever : we believe God, and therefore we speak to men as he hath commanded us : we entreat them in his name, to turn from sinful enmity and folly, and to be
reconciled to God, and be wise for their salvation : we tell them but what God's word sent from heaven, telleth us and them, that holiness is the love of God and goodness, and the hatred of sin ; that the pure in heart are blessed, for they shall see God. But without holiness none can see him : We tell them from God, that heaven is won or lost on earth; and that none shall have it but such as hence learn to love a holy and heavenly life; and that the dislike of holiness is the forfeiture of happiness, and the beginning, or forerunner of hell : We assure them, that God will never say, Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, if they do not first by iniquity depart from God; and that God will not damn them, except they damn themselves, by the obstinate final refusing and resisting of his mercy. We entreat men therefore but to live as men should do that love themselves, and that are not indifferent whether they live in heaven or hell for ever. We entreat them not to be worse to themselves, than the devil and all their enemies are, who cannot make them commit one sin against their wills; and yet after all this warning, entreaty, importunity, there are thousands, and ten thousands that will not be persuaded, nor regard the warning given them from God; some will not believe but that a man dies like a dog ; and what wonder if such live like dogs ! And some will not believe but that they may be saved without regenerating grace and holiness, though Christ's own mouth bath protested the contrary, and told us verily that it cannot be. (John iii. 3. 15. 18, 19; Matt. xvii. 3; Heb. xii. 14; Rom. viii. 6—9. 13, &c.) Multitudes will not be brought to understand what we say; but when we talk of redemption, sanctification, and salvation, they hear us as if we spake Greek or Hebrew to them, and under teaching, grow old in sottish, grossest ignorance; multitudes are taken up with the love of prosperity, and the love of this deceiving world : multitudes are carried away with aspiring ambition and foolish pride ; and more with the love of fleshly pleasures, and satisfying their appetites and lusts. Many poor people (who every where are the most) are so oppressed with want, and wearied with their daily labor, and taken up with cares to pay their rents and debts, and maintain their families, that they they think it excusable in them if they little mind the pleasing of God, and saving of their souls; supposing that they have no Vol. II.