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while we are in the body here, is but enigmatical, and as in a glass; and that all words which man can speak of God (at least except being and substance) are but terms below him, borrowed from his image on the creatures, and not signifying the same thing formally in God, which they signify in us.'

If you think otherwise, you will make an idol in your conception, instead of God: and you will debase him, and bring him down to the condition of the creature. it doth not follow that we know nothing of him, or that all such expressions of God are vain, or false, or must be disused: for then we must not think or talk of God at all. But we must speak of him according to the highest notions which we can borrow from the noblest parts of his image; confessing still, that they are but borrowed : and these must be used till we come nearer, and see as face to face; and “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is imperfect shall be done away;" 1 Cor. xiii. 10–12. And yet it is (in comparison of darker revelations) as with open face that we behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord ; and it is a sight that can change us into the same image, as from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord ; 2 Cor. iii. 18.

Direct. 4. Abhor the furious ignorance which brandeth every one with the names of heresy or blasphemy, who differ from them in the use of some unnecessary metaphor of God, when their different phrases tend not indeed to his dishonour, and perhaps may have the same signification with their own.'

When we are all forced to confess, that all our terms of God are improper or metaphorical, and yet men will run those metaphors into numerous branches, and carry them unto greater impropriety, and then rail at all as blasphemers that question them; this practice is (though too common) a heinous sin in them, as it hath direful effects upon the church. Should I recite the sad histories of this iniquity, and shew what it hath done between the Greek and Latin churches, and between those called orthodox and catholic, and many through the world that have been numbered with heretics; it would be too large a subject for our sorrow and complaints.

Direct. 5. ‘Abhor presumptuous curiosities in inquiring into the secret things of God; much more in pretending to

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know them; and most of all in reviling and contending against others upon those pretences.'

It is sad to observe abundance of seemingly learned men, who are posed in the smallest creature which they study, yet talking as confidently of the unsearchable things of God, yea, and raving as furiously and voluminously against all that contradict them, as if they had dwelt in the inaccessible light, and knew all the order of the acts of God, much better than they know themselves, and the motions of their own minds; or better than they can anatomize.a worm or a beast. They that will not presume to say, that they know the secrets of their prince, or the heart of any of their neighbours; yea, they that perceive the difficulty of knowing the state of a man's own soul, because our hearts are a maze and labyrinth, and our thoughts so various and confused, can yet give you so exact a scheme of all God's conceptions that it shall be no less than heresy to question the order of any part of it. They can tell you what ideas are in the mind of God, and in what order they lie; and how those ideas are the same unchanged about things that are changed; about things past, and present, and to come; and what futurition was from eternity, as in the idea of God's mind; they can tell me in what order he knoweth things, and by what means; and whether future contingents are known to him in their causes, or in his decree, or in their co-existence in eternity. They can tell what decrees he hath about negatives ; as that such a man shall not have faith given him ; that millions of things possible shall not be; that you shall not be a plant, or a beast, nor any other man, nor called by any other

name, &c. : and how all God's decrees are indeed but one, and yet not only inconceivably numerous, but the order of them as to priority and posteriority is to be exactly defined and defeuded, though to the detriment of charity and peace. As to sin, they can tell you whether he have a real positive de

de re eveniente,' or only 'de eventu rei,' or propriâ permissione eventus,' i. e. 'de non impediendo, ' i. non agendo;' whether non agere' need and have a positive act of volition or nolition antecedenti though they know not when they hear the sound of the wind, either whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; yet know they all the methods of the Spirit. They know how God as the first mover, predetermineth the motions of all agents, natural and



free, and whether his influence be upon the essence, or faculty, or act immediately, and what that influx is. In a word, how voluminously do they darken counsel by words without knowledge! As if they had never read God's large expostulation with Job, (Job xlii. &c.) “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law;" Deut. xxix. 29. Even an angel could say to Manoah, “Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” Judges xii. 18. “No man hath

“ seen God at any time, (saving) the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he hath declared him;" John i. 18. And what he hath declared we may know; but how much more do these men pretend to know, than ever Christ declared! But " who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counseller ?” Rom. xi. 34.

• Etiam vera de Deo loqui periculosum.' Even things that are true should be spoken of God, not only with reverence, but with great caution. And a wise man will rather

, admire and adore, than boldly speak what he is not certain is true and congrous.

Direct. 6. • Let all your knowledge of God be practical ; yea, more practical than any other knowledge ; and let not your thoughts once use God's name in vain.'

If it be a sin to use idle or unprofitable words, and especially to take God's name in vain ; it cannot be faultless to have idle, unprofitable thoughts of God: for the thoughts are the operations of the mind itself. There is no thought or knowledge which ever cometh into our minds, which, 1. Hath so great work to do; and 2. Is so fit and powerful to do it, as the knowledge and thoughts which we have of God. The very renovation of the soul to his image, and transforming it into the Divine nature, must be wrought hereby. The thoughts of his wisdom, must silence all our contradicting folly, and bring our souls to an absolute submission and subjection to his laws. The knowledge of his goodness, must cause all true saving goodness in us, by possessing us with the highest love to God. The knowledge of his power, must cause both our confidence, and our fear: and the impress of God's attributes must be his image on our souls. It is a common (and true) observation of divines, that in Scripture, words of God which express his knowledge, do

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imply his will and affections: (as his knowing the way of the righteous (Psal. ii. 6.) is his approving and loving it, &c.): and it is as true, that words of our knowledge of God, should all imply affection towards him.

It is a grievous aggravation of ungodliness, to be a learned, ungodly man : “ To profess to know God, and deny him in works, being abominable and disobedient, and reprobate to every good work ;" Titus i. 16. (though as orthodox and ready in good words as others).

A thought of God should be able to do any thing upon the soul. It should partake of the omnipotency and perfection of the blessed object. No creature should be able to stand before him, when our minds entertain any serious thoughts of him, and converse with him. A thought of God should annihilate all the grandeur and honours of the world to us; and all the pleasures and treasures of the flesh; and all the power of temptations. What fervency in prayer ! What earnestness of desire! What confidence of faith! What hatred of sin! What ardent love! What transporting joy! What constant patience should one serious thought of God possess the believiug, holy soul with !

If the thing known become as much one with the understanding, as Plotinus and other Platonists thought, or if man were so far a partaker of a kind of deification, as Gibieuf and other Oratorians, and Benedictus de Benedictis, Barbanson, and other fanatic friars think, surely the knowledge of God should raise us more above our sensitive desires and passions, and make us a more excellent sort of persons, and it should make us more like those blessed spirits who know him more than we on earth ; and it should be the beginning of our eternal life; John xvii. 3.

Direct. 7. ‘By faith deliver up yourselves to God as your Creator and your Owner, and live to him as those that perceive they are absolutely his own.'

The word 'God' doth signify both God's essence, and his three great relations unto man, and we take him not for our God, if we take him not as in these divine relations. Therefore God would have faith to be expressed at our entrance into his church, by baptism; because a believing soul doth deliver up itself to God. The first and greatest work of faith, is to enter us sincerely into the holy covenant: in which this is the first part, that we take God for


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our Owner, and resign up ourselves to him, without either express or implicit reserve, as those that are absolutely his

And though these words are by any hypocrite quickly spoken, yet when the thing is really done, the very heart of sin is broken: for as the apostle saitb, “He that is dead is freed from sin ;” Rom. vi. 7. Because a dead man hath no

" . faculties to do evil. So we may say, He that is resigned to God as his absolute Owner, is freed from sin; because he that is not his own, hath nothing which is his own, and therefore hath nothing to alienate from his Owner. “We are not our own, we are bought with a price” (which is the second title of God's propriety in us), and therefore “must glorify God in body and spirit, as being his;" 1 Cor. vi. 20.

And from this relation faith will fetch abundant consolation, seeing they that by consent, and not only by constraint, are absolutely his, shall undoubtedly be loved and cared for as his own, and used and provided for as his own. He will not neglect his own, and those of his family, who will take us to be worse than infidels, if we do sc; 1 Tim.i.5.

Direct. 8. ' By faith deliver up yourselves to God, as your sovereign Ruler, with an absolute resolution to learn, and love, and obey his laws.'

Though I have often and more largely spoken of these duties in other treatises, I must not here totally omit them, where I speak of that faith in God, which essentially consisteth in them. It is a narrow, and foolish, and pernicious conceit of faith, which thinketh it hath no object but promises and pardon; and that it hath nothing to do with God as our sovereign Governor. And it is too large a description of faith, which maketh actual and formal obedience to be a part of it. As marriage is not conjugal fidelity and duty, but it is a covenant which obligeth to it; and as the oath of allegiance is not a formal obedience to the laws,

but it is a covenanting to obey them; and as the hiring or covenant of a servant, is not doing service, but it is an entering into an obligation and state of service: so faith and our first Christianity, is not strictly formal obedience to him that we believe in, as such ; but it is an entering of ourselves by covenant into an obligation and state of future obedience. Faith hath God's precepts for its objects as truly as his promises; but his own relation as our King or Ruler is its pri

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