Page images

to our own sanctification, than the Holy Ghost ? 3. Lastly, Our knowledge of the Holy Ghost Woe to us, if he conquer not our enmity. must raise us to an high estimation of his works,

Quest. 16. Is it probable that so great a work a ready reception of his graces, and cheerful as the destroying of our dearest sins, the setting obedience to his motions. He sanctified our our hearts and all our hopes on an invisible Head, who had no sin, by preventing sin in his glory, delighting in the Lord, and forsaking conception, and he anointed him to his office, all for him, &c. should come rather from the and came upon him at his baptism : he sanctichoice of a will that loves those sins, and hates fied and anointed the prophets and apostles to that holy, heavenly life, than from the Spirit of their offices, and by them indited the holy scripChrist? surely this is much above us.

ture. He illuminates, converts, sanctifies, and Quest. 17. Whence is it that so often one man guides all that are to be heirs of life. This is his that hath been a notorious sinner is converted work. Honour that part of it that is done on by a sermon, when a more civil man, of better Christ, on the prophets, apostles, and the scripnature and life, is never changed, though he have tures; and value and seek after that which bethat and ten times more persuasions ?

longs to yourselves. Think not to be holy withQuest. 18. Doth not experience tell impartial out the sanctifier, nor to do any thing well withobservers, that those who highly esteem the sanc- out the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is Christ's intifying work of the Holy Ghost, are ordinarily ternal, invisible agent here on earth. O that men of more holy, heavenly lives, than they that use knew how much of their welfare depends on a to ascribe the distinguishing work to their free faithful obeying of the Holy Ghost ! wills? In my observation it is so. Quest. 19. Should not every gracious, humble

CHAP. XIII. soul, be more inclined to magnify God than him- The next part of our knowledge of God is to self; and to give him the glory, than to give it know him in those great consequent relations, to ourselves, especially in a case where scripture to which he is entitled by creation and redempand experience tell us that we are more unlikely tion, viz, as he is our absolute Lord, or Owner, than God to deserve the praise ? Our destruc- our most righteous Governor, and our most hountion is of ourselves, but in him is our help. When tiful or gracious Father, or Benefactor. we see an effect and know it, and the causes that

1. God, both as our Creator and Redeemer, are in question, it is easy to conjecture, from the hath an absolute dominion of the world ; that is, quality, which is the true cause. If I see a ser- he is our Owner or Proprietor, and we are his pent brought forth, I will sooner think that it own; for we take not the term, lordship or dowas generated by a serpent than a dove. If I minion, here in the looser sens as it signifies a see sin in the world, I shall easily believe it is ruler, but in the stricter sense, as it signifies an the spawn of this corrupted will, that is so prone owner. Of this relation I have already spoken to it. But if I find a divine nature in me, or see in a sermon of Christ's dominion: and therefore a holy, heavenly life in any, I must needs think shall say the less in this place. that this is likelier to be the work of the blessed The knowledge of God's dominion or proGod, than of such a naughty heart as man's, that priety must comprehend, 1. The certain truth of hath already been a self-destroyer.

this his right. 2. The fulness of it. 3. The effects Quest. 20. What motive hath any man to that it must have on us. exalt himself and sin against the Holy Ghost by I. The truth of it is beyond dispute, even such an extenuation of his saving grace? It is among infidels, that know there is a God. He a causeless, fruitless sin. The only reason that that made us of his own materials, or of nothing, ever I could hear for it, was lest the doctrine must needs be the owner of us; and so must he of differencing grace should make God a respect that bought us from destruction. • Behold all er of persons, or the author of sin, of which there souls are mine.' _ • To this end Christ both died, is no reason of a suspicion. We all agree that rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of no man perishes, or is denied grace, but such as the dead and living.'—' All things that the deserve it: and when all deserve it, it is no more Father hath are mine.' The Father then hath respect of persons in God to sanctify some only this propriety by creation, and the Son by reof those ill deservers, than it is that he makes demption : and the Father also by communicanot all men kings, nor every dog a man, nor tion with the Son in redemption ; and the Son every star a sun, or every man an angel. To by communication with the Father in creation. clear all objections concerning this, would be but II. And it must be the most absolute plenary

dominion, because the very being of all the crea

to digress.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

tures is from God, and therefore no one can be so shall there be no contradiction, but a perfect co-ordinate with him, or his rival, nor any thing concord of all these in the exercise. He therelimit his interest in us.

fore that, as our king or governor, hath underIII. And the effects that this must have upon taken to advance the godly, and destroy the us, are these following.

wicked, will not, by the exercise of his absolute 1. Hence we must conclude, and reverently dominion, deny himself, nor be unfaithful to and willingly confess, that further than he volun-, his people, or to his rules of government. tary doth oblige himself to us, it is impossible If you ask me, in what cases then this dothat God should be our debtor ; and consequent- minion is exercised ? I answer, 1. In laying ly that upon terms of commutative justice we the foundations of laws and right. 2. In the should merit any thing of God. For what can disposal of the unreasonable creatures. 3. In we render to him but his own; and how should abundance of things about his rational creatures, he, properly and antecedently, be indebted to and wherein, as rector, he is not engaged, nor hath for his own?

in his laws declared his will; as about the various 2. And we must conclude, that antecedently constitutions and complexions of men, their ranks to his laws and promise, it is impossible that and dignities in the world, their riches, or poGod can do us any wrong, or any thing that he verty, their health, or sickness, their gifts and can do, can be guilty of injustice : for justice parts, both natural and acquired; the first giving gives to all their own: and therefore it gives no- of the gospel, and of special grace, to such as thing to us from God but what he voluntarily had forfeited them, and had no promise of them: gives us himself, which therefore is first a gift the degrees of outward means and mercies ; the of bounty, and but secondarily a due in justice. degrees of inward grace, more than what is pro

3. And therefore we must hence learn, that mised, &c. God may do with his own as he will. There- From hence also we must learn, not to repine fore we must take heed that we repine not at at the providences of God about his church, any of his decrees or providences, or any passa- which are strange to us, and past our reach, and ges concerning them in his word. Much may seem to make against its welfare. Remember be above us, because our blindness cannot reach that as he may do with his own as he will, so we the reasons of his ways; but nothing is unrea- have no reason to think that he will be lavish or sonable or evil; for all proceeds from infinite disregardful of his own. The church is not ours, wisdom and goodness, as well as from omnipo- but God's : and therefore he is fitter then we to tency; as no man must feign any thing of God, be trusted with it. and say, this is his decree, or word, or provi- And so in our own distresses by affliction ; dence ; and therefore it is good, when there is when flesh repineth, let us remember, that we no such thing revealed to us; so when we find are his own, and he may do with us as he pleases. that it is indeed revealed, our reason must pre- If we be poor, despised, sick and miserable in sently submit, and undoubtedly conclude it rea- the world, let us remember, that as it is no insonable and good. Yet is there no cause from jury to the beasts that they are not men, or to hence to fear, lest God should condemn the in- the worms that they are not beasts, or to the nocent, or break his promises, and deny us the plants that they have not sense, or to the stars reward ; nor is there any hope to wicked men that they are not suns, so it is no wrong to the that he should violate his peremptory threaten- subjects that they are not princes, or to the poor ings, or, as they call it in their selfish language, that they are not rich, or to the sick that they be better than his word: because though God are not healthful. May not God do with his have an absolute propriety, and therefore in re- own, as he will ; shall a beggar grudge that you gard of his interest or power, may do what he give not all that he desires, when you are not will, yet he is essentially also most wise and bound to give him any thing ? good, and accordingly hath fitted all things to 4. Yea, hence we must learn to be the more their use, and taken

him the relation of our thankful for all our mercies, because they progovernment, and as it were obliged himself by ceed from the absolute Lord, who was not obliged his laws and covenants, and declared himself to us. He might have made us idiots, or inadto be most just ; and showed us hereby that he men ; he might have made us beasts or insects, will do nothing contrary to these. As there is without any injury to us; and the mercies which no contradiction, but most perfect unity, in God's are consequently from his promise, are anteceomnipotency, wisdom, and goodness; his do- dently from bis propriety and dominion : for lie minion or propriety, bis kingdom and paternity; I might have put us into other capacities, and



have chosen not to have made those promises. per to a saint: for sanctification hath these parts : And his promises bind us not to be less thankful one is the habitual devotion of the soul to God, but more. As his mercies are not the less mer- and the other is the actual dedication, and a third cies but the greater, for being promised ; because is the relation of the person as thus dedicated, we have now the comfort and use of them in the and the fourth is the actual using of ourselves promise, before we have them.

for God. These four are the parts of sanctifi5. Hence also we must learn, that there can cation ; so that all is but our giving up ourselves be no simple, absolute propriety in any creature. to God. But to be his in right, is common to No creature gave all the being and well being the devils and most ungodly. The hearts of to another that it hath, and this originally as of the sanctified do resolvedly and delightfully say, its own.

We being not our own but God's, my beloved is mine, and I am his, and I am cannot have any thing that is absolutely our my beloved's and my beloved is mine.' See then

Human propriety is but derived, limited, that you keep not any thing back, but resign up and respective. Our goods, and lands, and lives yourselves entirely to God, as those that know are ours; that is, they are ours to use for God, they are wholly his. as the instruments of a workman to do his work : 8. And with ourselves we must resign up all but not ours to use as we think meet. They are

to God that we have. For if we are not our own so ours, as that men may not take them from us, but his, then our children, our wealth, our senses, but God may take them from us at his pleasure. our time, our abilities and all that we have are And therefore think not you may mis-spend a his. All is not to be used one way for God: not penny if you were ever so rich, because it is all to the poor, nor all to the commonwealth, nor your own; but know, that you must mis-spend all to the direct promoting of his worship : but nothing, because it is not your own but God's. all must be his, and used for him, in one way or

6. Principally, we must hence learn to deny other, and in those ways which he requires. ourselves, as being not our own, and having no. Possess not any thing merely for yourselves. thing in the world that is our own, in respect to 9. Especially see to it in the use and imGod, the absolute owner. And therefore above provement, that you use yourselves, and all that all the sins of your souls, still watch against this you have for God. Let this be your intention, selfishness ; lest you should grow to look at your trade, and study. See that you be always at time, your strength, your wealth, your interests, his work ; that if a man come in upon you any as your own, and forget that you are mere stew- hour of the day, and ask you what you are a ards; and say as the ungodly, “our lips are our doing, and whose work it is that you are upon, own: who is Lord over us? O take heed that you may truly be able to say, the Lord's. If you you use not your strength, or interest, or any be asked, who you are now speaking for, or spendthing for yourselves : no not so much as your ing your time for, or for whom you expend food and raiment, that is, for yourselves ulti- your wealth ? You may truly say of every hour, mately, or not in subordination to the Lord. For and every penny, and every word, 'it is for the self as subject unto God, or as closed with him Lord. Even that which you give your children in the bond of love, is no longer self in enmity or friends, and that which you receive for your and opposition, nor that which we are forbidden support or comfort, may all be principally and to seek or serve.

ultimately for God : ‘ye are not your own; for 7. And this knowledge of the dominion of ye are bought with a price : therefore glorify God, must prevail with us effectually to resign God in your body, and in your spirit, which are ourselves absolutely to him. Our consent doth God's'— Christ died for all, that they which give him no title to us, but it is necessary to live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, our welfare that we confess his title. All men, but to him that died for them, and rose again.' even the wicked, are his own; but that is against 10. This must be a stay to the souls of true their wills: but the godly are willingly his own, believers, and cause them with comfort to trust and disclaim all interest in themselves but what themselves and all their affairs in the hands of is duly subordinate to his : the name of God is God. When we have first made it our care to put upon them, as you put your names on your give to God the things that are God's, and heartgoods or sheep. “I sware unto thee, and entered ily consecrated ourselves and all that we have to into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord, and him, as his own; we have no reason to doubt of thou becamest mine.'—* And they shall be mine, his acceptance, nor of his care, protection and saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my merciful disposal of us. This is a wonderful jewels.' To be entirely his by covenant, is pro- I comfort to poor Christians, to think that they

[ocr errors][merged small]


have such an owner. Whoever is against you, and so God is said to govern brutes and inaniChristians, be sure of it God will look to you, mate creatures : but that is but a metaphorical as his own. And if you but promise another expression: as an artificer metaphorically governs that you will be as careful of his child, his horse, his clock, or engine, or a shepherd his sheep. his goods, as if they were your own, he will think But we now speak of proper moral government. you say as much as can be expected. If you God having made man a rational and free agent, be poor, or sick, or desolate, you may be sure having an immortal soul, and capable of everlastthat yet God will look to you as his own. And ing happiness, his very nature and the end of his why should you think that he will be careless of creation required, that he should be conducted his own ? Ground your prayers and confidence to that end and happiness by means agreeable on this, as David doth : “ I am thine, save me.' to his nature; that is, by the revelation of the And in all our labours, and the affairs of our reward before he sees it, that he may seek it and lives, when our consciences can say that we live be fitted for it: and by prescribed duties that to God, and study to do all we can for him, are necessary to obtain it, and to his living here and to improve all our time, parts, and other according to his nature : and by threatened talents, to his use, it may very much quiet us in penalties to quicken him to his duty: so that he is all his disposals of us. If he keep us in the naturally a creature to be governed, both as solowest case, if we be his, we must rest in his ciable, and as one to be conducted to his end. wisdom, that knows best how to use his own. If He therefore that created him having alone both he take our friends from us, he takes but his sufficiency and right, doth by this very creation own. If he deny his saving grace to our ungodly become his governor. His government hath children, a heavy judgment of which we must be two parts (the world being thus constituted the sensible, yet when we have devoted them to God, kingdom of God.) The first is by legislation, and done our own part, we must be silent, as or making laws, and officers for execution. The Aaron was, when his were destroyed, second is by the procuring the execution of these and confess that “the potter hath power over laws; to which end he doth exhort and persuade his own clay, to make of the same lump a vessel the subjects to obedience, and judge them acto honour, and another to dishonour. All his cording to their works, and execute his judg disposals shall work to that end which is the most nient. universal perfect good, and most denominates His first law was to Adam, the law of nature, all the means.

But those that are his own by obliging him to adhere to his Creator, and to consent and covenant, may be sure that all shall love him, trust him, fear him, honour him, and work to their own good. Let us die with Christ, obey him with all his might, in order to the and be buried to the world, and know no Lord pleasing of his Creator, and the attainment of or owner but our great Creator and Redeemer, everlasting life : to which was added a positive except in a limited sense, and then we may bold- law, against the eating of the tree of knowledge : ly argue with him to the quiet of our souls from and death was the penalty due to the sinner: this relation, “I am thine, help me.'— Stir up this law was quickly broken by man; and God thyself, and awake to my judgment, even to my delayed not his judgment, but sentenced the cause, my Lord and my God,' when faith and tempter, the woman and the man ; though not aclove have first said as Thomas, My Lord and cording to their merits ; but graciously providing

a Redeemer, he presently stopped the execution of

the far greatest part of the penalty, the Son of CHAP. XIV.

God undertaking, as our surety, to become a sacThe next relation to be spoken of, is God's rifice and ransom for us. Hereupon the covesovereignty: both by creation and redemption nant of grace was made, and the law of grace he hath the right of governing us as our sover- enacted with mankind; but more obscurely in eign king, and we are obliged to be his willing the beginning ; being cleared up by degrees in subjects, and as such to obey his holy laws. He the several promises to the fathers, types of the is the Lord or owner of all the world ; even of law, and the prophecies of the prophets of several brutes as properly as of man : but he is the so- ages, the law being interposed because of transvereign king or governor only of the reasonable gression: in the fulness of time the Messiah creature; because no others are capable of that was incarnate, and the first promises concerning proper moral government which now we speak him fulfilled, and after his holy life, preaching, of. Vulgarly indeed his physical motions and and conquest of the tempter and the world, he dispositions are called his rule or government: I gave himself a ransom for us, and conquering

my God.'

death he rose again, ascended into heaven, being | King, must bring the whole man into subjection possessed in his manhood of the fulness of his to him. Our understandings must be subject to power, and all things being delivered into his his doctrine, and resigned to him, as teachable hands ; so that he was made the general admin- and tractable: when we know what is his law istrator and Lord of all. And thus he more and will, we must rest in it, though we know not clearly revealing his covenant of grace, and bring- the reasons of it. We take not on us to be coming life and immortality to light, commissioned petent judges of all the reasons of the laws of his ministers to preach this gospel to all the world. men, but must obey them without disputing the And thus the primitive sovereign is God, and reasons (with the limitations after to be mentionthe sovereign by derivation is Jesus, the media- ed.) How much more must we submit to the tor, in his manhood united to the second person wisdom of the infallible law-giver, that cannot in the Godhead ; and the laws that we are go- deceive, or be deceived. Our wills also must be verned by, are the law of nature, with the super- fully subject to his will, revealed by his precepts. added covenant of grace; the subordinate officers We must desire no more to move us, or to stop are angels, magistrates, and pastors of the church us, but to know what God would have us do. (having works distinct); the society itself is called As the first wheels in a watch or other engine, the church and kingdom of God; the reward is moves all the rest, so the will of God must everlasting glory, with the mercies of this life move all our wills, and rule our lives. We must in order to it: and the punishment is everlast- take heed above all things in the world, lest our ing misery, with the preparatory judgments, es- wills (which are the lower wheels) should have pecially on the soul, which are here inflicted. any such defects, distempers, reserves, any carnal Subjection is due upon our first being ; and is bias, interest, or inclination, that makes them consented to, or vowed in baptism, and is to be unfit to receive the law of God, or be ruled by manifested in holy obedience to the death. This his will. We must imitate our Lord, and learn is the sovereignty and government of God. Now of the prophet David, 'I delight to do thy will, let us see how God, as our sovereign, must be O God.' With cheerful readiness to obey, we must known.

stand waiting for the word of his command; and 1. The princes, and all the rulers of the say “teach me to do thy will, for thou art my world, must understand their place and duty: they God,' and as Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for thy serare first God's subjects, and then his officers, and vant heareth. When a man's selfish, carnal will can have no power but from God, nor hold any is mortified, and his will lies submissive before but in dependence on him, and subordination the Lord, and wholly applies itself to his will, to him. Their power extends no further than and it is enough to a man to move him in the the heavenly Sovereign hath signified his plea- greatest matters, to know that it is the will of sure, and by commission to them, or command God, this is a state of true subjection. Thus to us, conferred it on them. As they have no must we be in subjection to the Father of spirits, strength, or natural power, but from the omni- submitting even to his sharpest dispensations, potent God, so can they have no authority, or for all the church is subject unto Christ, and governing power or right, but from the absolute this is essential to our holy covenant and Chrisking of all the world. They can less pretend tianity itself. When God is taken to be our to a right of governing not derived from God, God, and we give up ourselves to be his people ; than a justice or constable may to such power, when Christ is taken to be our Saviour, and not derived from the eartbly sovereigns. we give up ourselves to him as his members,

Princes and states also must hence understand and redeemed ones, it essentially contains our their end and work. God who is the beginning, taking him for our chief governor, and giving up must be the end also of their government: their ourselves to him as his subjects. Take heed of laws must be but by-laws, subservient to his laws, that wisdom that would supersede the wisdom to further men's obedience to them. The common of God, and be your guide itself, without degood, which is their lower nearer end, must be pending on his wisdom. This is the foolish, measured by his interest in the nations, and damning wisdom of the world. Take heed of men's relations unto him. The common posses- that concupiscence or will that would be your sion of his favour, blessing and protection is the ruler, and overturn the will of God. For this is greatest common good. His interest in us, and the grand rebel, and greatest enemy of God and ours in him, must therefore be principally main

3. And subjection must produce obedience ; 2. The knowledge of God as our sovereign subjection is the consent of the will to be sub




5 K

« PreviousContinue »