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ture, or of Providence, that the things that are chained to eternity, cannot be perfectly understood by him that standeth in an inch of time : but when eternity comes, thou shalt understand them. Remember when things seem crooked in this world, and the best are lowest, and the worst are highest, that eternity is long enough to set all straight. Remember when sinners crow and triumph, that eternity is long enough for their complaints. In thy poverty, and pain, and longest afflictions, remember that eternity is long enough for thy relief. If thy sorrow be long, and thy comforts short, remember that eternity is long enough for thy joys. Cannot we be content to take up short in this life, when we believe eternity ? Dost thou stagger at the length or strength of thy temptations ? and art thou ready to draw back and venture upon sin ? Why, what temptation can there be, that should not be lighter than a feather, if eternity be put against it in the scales ? In a word, if there be any man that escapeth the foolish seductions of this world, and useth it as not abusing it, and hath all his worldly accommodations as if he had none, it is he that fixeth his eye upon eternity, and seeth that the fashion of these lower things doth pass away. (1 Cor. vii. 29–31.) No man can be ignorant of the necessity and worth of a holy life, that discerneth that the eternal God is the end of it. The right apprehensions of God's eternity (supposing him our end, which is further to be manifested in its place), is a most powerful antidote against all sin, and a most powerful composer of a distempered mind, and a most powerful means to keep up all the powers of the soul in a resolute, vigorous, cheerful motion to the eternal God, for whom and by whom it was created.
CHAP. VI. 5. The next attribute of God, that is to make its impress on us, is, that he is a Spirit. In this one are these three especially comprehended : 1. That he is simple, and not material or compounded as bodies are : 2. That he is invisible, and not to be seen as bodies are : 3. That he is immortal and incorruptible, and not subject to death or change, as bodies are.
1. As Simplicity signifieth unity, in opposition to multiplicity, we have spoken of it before. As it is opposite to all materiality, mixture or composition, we are now to speak of it: And the believing thoughts of God's immateriality and simplicity, should have these three effects upon the soul. 1. It should do much to win the heart to God, and cause it to close with him as its felicity ; because as he hath no matter or mixture, so he hath nothing but pure
and perfect goodness, and therefore there is nothing in him to discourage the soul. The creatures have evil in them with their good, and by contrary qualities do hurt us when they help us, and displease us when they please us; but in God there is nothing but infinite goodness. And should not the soul adhere to him, where it is sure to find nothing but simple, pure, and unmixed good? The creatures are all liable to some exceptions : in one thing they help us, but in another they hinder us ; in one thing they are suitable to us, and in another thing unsuitable! But God is liable to no exceptions. This will for ever confound the ungodly that give not up themselves unto him : they did even for a thing of naught forsake that God that was purely and simply good, and against whom they had no exceptions. Had there been any thing in God to discourage the soul, or which his most malicious enemy could blame, the ungodly soul had some excuse. But this will stop all the mouths of the condemned, that they had nothing to say against the Lord ; and yet they had no mind to him, no hearts for him, in comparison of the vain, vexatious creatures,
2. The Simplicity of God should make us know the imperfection and vanity of all the creatures that are compounded things, and so should help to alienate us from them. Our friends have in them perhaps much holiness, but mixed with much sin. They may have much knowledge; but mixed with much ignorance. Their humility is mixed with pride; their meekness with some passions, their love with selfishness, and a small matter will cause them to distaste us: they may be much for God; but withal they may do much against him. They help the church ; but through their weakness they may lamentably detract or wrong it: they are able to help us but in part; and willing but in part; and they have usually interests of their own, that are inconsistent with ours. We have no commodity, but hath its discommodity: our houses, our families, our neighbours, our callings, our cattle, our land, our countries, churches, ministers, magistrates, laws and judgments, yea, even health, and plenty, and peace itself, all have their mixture of bitterness or danger, and those the most dangerous commonly that have least bitterness. But in God there is none of all this mixture, but pure uncompounded good. “ He is light, and with him is no darkness.” (1 John i. 5.) Indeed there is somewhat in God that an ungodly man distasteth, and that seemeth in the state that he is in to be against him, and hurtful to him: as is his justice, holiness, truth, &c. But justice is not evil, because it doth condemn a thief or murderer: meat is not bad, because the sick distaste it. It is the cross position of the sinful soul, or his enmity to the Lord that makes the Lord to use him as an enemy. Let him but become a subject fit for sweeter dealing from God, and he is sure to find it. Leave then the compounded, self-contradicting creature, and adhere to the pure, simple Deity.
3. God's Simplicity must draw the soul to a holy simplicity, that it may be like to God. We that serve a pure, simple God, must do it with simple, pure affections, and not with hypocrisy, or a double heart. His interest in us should be maintained with a holy jealousy, that no other interest mix itself therewith. The soul should attain to a holy simplicity by closing with the simple, infinite God, and suffering nothing to be a sharer with him in our superlative affections. All creatures must keep their places in our hearts, and that is only in a due subordination and subserviency to the Lord: but nothing should take up the least of that estimation, those affections, or endeavours that are his own peculiar. God will not accept of half a heart: A double-minded, double-hearted, double-faced, or doubletongued person, is contrary to the holy simplicity of a saint. As we would not bow the knee to any gods but one, so neither should we bow the heart or life to them. We should know what is God's prerogative, and that we should keep entirely for him. A subordinate esteem, and love, and desire the creature may have, as it revealeth God to us, or leadeth to him, or helpeth us in his work: but it should not have the least of his part in our esteem, or love, or desire. This is the chastity, the purity, the integrity of the soul. It is the mixture, impurity, corruption and confusion of our souls, when any thing is taken in with God. See therefore, Christian, that in thy heart thou have no God but one, and that he have all thy heart, and soul, and strength, as far as thou canst attain it. And because there will be still in imperfect souls, some sinful mixture of the creature's interest with God's, let it be the work of thy life to be watching against it, and casting it out, and cleansing thy heart of it, as thoù wouldst do thy food if it fall into the dirt. For whatever is added to God in thy affections, doth make no better an increase there, than the adding of earth unto thy gold, or of dung unto thy meat, or of corrupted humours and sickness to thy body. Mixture will make no better work.
It may be thy rejoicing, if thou have " the testimony of a good conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, and not in fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, thou hast had thy conversation in the world.” (2 Cor. i. 12.) It is the state of hypocrisy, when one God is openly professed and worshipped, and yet the creature lieth deepest and nearest to the heart.
2. The Invisibility of God also must have its due effects upon us. And, 1. It must warn us, that we picture not God to our eyesight, or in our fancies in any bodily shape. Saith the prophet, “ To whom will you liken God? or what likeness willye compare unto him ?” (Isa. xl. 18. 25.) “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of his Father, he hath declared him," (John i. 18,) and therefore we must conceive of him but as he is declared, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John vi. 46.)
If you ask me, How then you should conceive of God, if not in any bodily shape ? I answer, Get all these attributes, and relations of God to make their proper impress upon thy soul, as now I am teaching you, and then you will have the true conceiving of God. This question therefore is to be answered at the end of this discourse, when you have seen all the attributes of God together, and heard what impression they must make upon you.
2. This must teach us, to think most highly of the things that are invisible, and more meanly of these visible things. Let it be the property of a beast, and not of a man, to know nothing but what he seeth or hath seen: Let it be
the mark of the brutish infidels, and not of Christians, to doubt of the invisible things, because they are invisible; or to think that things visible are more excellent or sure. As the senses are more ignoble than the intellect, (a beast having as perfect senses as a man, and yet no reasonable understanding) so the objects of sense must proportionably be below the objects of the understanding, as such. The grossest and most palpable objects are the basest. It is the subtile part that is called the spirits ; which being drawn out of plants or other vegetables, is most powerful and excellent, and valued, when the earthly dregs are cast away as little worth. It is that subtile part in our blood that is called the spirits, that hath more of the virtue of life, and doth more of the works than the feculent, gross and earthly part. The air and wind have as true a being as the earth, and a more excellent nature, though it be more gross and they invisible. The body is not so excellent as the invisible soul. Invisible things are as real as visible, and as suitable to our more noble, invisible part, as visible things to our fleshly, baser part.
3. The Invisibility of God must teach us to live a life of faith, and to get above a sensual life: and it must teach us to value the faith of the saints, as knowing its excellency and necessity. Invisible objects have the most perfect excellent réality; and therefore faith hath the pre-eminence above sense. Natural reason can live upon things not seen, if they have been seen, or can be known by natural evidence (subjects obey a prince that they see not: and fear a punishment which they see not: and the nature of man is afraid of the devils, though we see them not). But faith liveth upon such invisible things, as mortal eye did never see, nor natural ordinary evidence demonstrate, but are revealed only by the word of God: though about many of its invisible objects, faith hath the consent of reason for its encouragement. Value not sight and sense too much. think not all to be mere uncertainties and notions that are not the objects of sense.
We should not have heard that God is a spirit, if corporal substances had not a baser kind of being than spirits : Intellection is a more noble operation than sense. If there be any thing properly called sense in heaven, it will be as far below the pure intellective intuition of the Lord, as the glorified body will be below the