« PreviousContinue »
ty, though he hath a course to pass through time. Therefore he doth need higher accomplishments than what belong to this present state. If he hath no better accomplishments than these, when he comes to die, he may be as much at a loss as the great emperor Adrian was, O my soul, the happy companion of my body, that hath kept my body alive, and by whom I have so many enjoyments, what will become of thee when thou shalt depart from my body. - For these three reasons we muft not sit down in these kind of accomplishments; because they are inadequate, and not proportionate to our capacities, because they hold no farther than the present state, and because man is intentionally born to eternity.
III. Divine wisdom, the knowledge of God and divine things, things every way worthy, things that are every way in conjunction with eternal life, Ta know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou bast fent, John xvii. 3. Life and immortality is brought to light by the gospel, that is, made fairly knowable and well assured and asserted, - Knowledge in scripture-sense, is an effectual principle, and rests not in any notion of the head, or in any simple apprehension : for this is a rule that divines go upon and understand in fcripture ; there is a pregnancy in the language and phrase of scripture. Words of sense and understanding in fcripture, do fuppofe the concomitant affection and the consequent effect ; so that when
upon to know God, you are required to love and delight in him, which are affections connatural to the knowledge and perception of God; and you are commanded to obey him, which is a proper and consequent effect : and thus you are to understand scripture ; in things that are of the same nature and order, the scripture puts one, and means all. Scripture often speaks of faith, meaning also rtpentance in conjunction ; sometimes repentance alone, and faith is not excluded : for this is an usual figure in scripture, in saving things, name one and mean all, because they are all of the same nature, stand and fall together. Just as the philosopher says of his virtues, “all true virtues are in a conjunction, because they are all united in prudence :” so all graces, and gifts, and good affections, they are united in a renewed sanctified temper, reconciled to the nature, mind and will of God, and the rule of righteousness. Wherefore, where there is one, there is all. And this is the knowledge that the scripture. lays stress upon : for the truth is, if I have knowledge of God without affection, and if it doth not produce observance of him ; it would be for our condemnation, not for our justification. And therefore God doth never mean that any one doth understand or believe, if he doth not so receive as to admit it to be an over-ruling commanding principle : and we understand ourselves ro ;
you are called
for if a man swear he believes such a thing, yet we should not think so, if he do the contrary. No man can believe that a man thinks a thing to be poifon, if he himself drinks it ; or that this is a hazardous precipice, if he throws himself head-long; or that water will drown him, if he flings himself into it. For things are better assured by concomitant affection and by consequent effects, than by bare pretensions in the notion. For Aristotle tells us very
that bare fpeculation, knowledge and notion, is very little in the way of virtue, unless it be savory knowledge, or knowledge with a sense, when a man hath the gust of the thing as well as a precise separate ab. Itract notion of it.
Now this fame knowledge of divine and heavenly things, is of a double sort.
Those things that are knowable by natural light, as the moral part of religion, the principles of God's creation ; as that we are under obligation to good self-government, to live according to rules of reason, modesty, fobriety, purity, temperance ; that in our converse one with another, and in our carriage and behaviour in the family of God, we ought to maintain brotherly love, and to act with all calmness and gentleness ; to do according to the measures and rules of right, and equity and fairness and due confideration ; and that in respect of God there be all reverential regard, all fubmission and humble deprecation, all due acknowledgements, all ingenuous returns, all pious devotions and affections, all reverence and submission to his will. These are the principles of God's creation, and to these God made man, and we are naturally under the obligation of them : these are the great materials of natural knowledge ; and if any man fay he doth not know these things, I will tell him he bath lived downward, backward ; he hath lived to make himfelf less; he hath lived idle in the world; he hath neglected God's foil, he hath sown no feed, and therefore hath no hopes of any crop : for all men universally are under obligation in these matters; and men of any education, even the heathens themselves, VOL. IV.
have much ;
have acknowledged these. The other notices of divine revelation, are as knowable and intelligible as these ; that God doth pardon fin upon Christ's mediation and intercession, upon the terms of the covenant of grace, that is, that he will certainly pardon fin to all that repent and believe the gospel, and that he will accept of their weak and imperfect obedience, and will take it in good part, and accept them to all intents and purposes, as much as if a man were invested with full power of man in the moment of his creation, and that he did compleatly and exactly fulfil all righteousness. And though some men do pretend that religion is not intelligible, they dishonour God very
or hat which God hath now revealed, is as plain and as intelligible as any other matter : the mysteries of religion were the secrets of his will before they were revealed, but after they are told us, they cease to be mysteries. And it is no more a mystery that God (in and through Christ) will pardon fin to all that repent if they have done amiss, than it is a mystery that a man that is rational and intelligent ought to live soberly, righteously and godly: and I do understand it as well that I ought to repent and believe the gospel, as I understand that I ought to love and fear God. All religion is now intelligiblu : the moral part of it was intelligible from the creation : that which was pure revelation by the gospel, is intelligible ever since, and not a mystery. Therefore we be-fool ourselves to talk that religion is not knowable, and we cannot understand it : for understand it we may, if we will ; for if it be revealed, it is made intelligible ; if not intelligible,
it is not revealed. We are now come to that which is the true excellency and glory of man ; and that wherein a man may have hearts ease, quiet and satisfaction : but yet give me leave to interpose, that though this be in itself a true excellency, a high perfection, and far transcends all other perfections, yet there are three confiderations require of us a modest and humble sense, even in respect of this knowledge. 1. That we are less beholden to ourselves for it. 2. That it is more imperfect than it might be. 3. That it is less effectual than it should be.
1. That we are less beholden to ourselves for it. For if every good and perfect gift comes from above, then this being a gift of a spiritual nature, God is to be thanked for it; and it becomes every one of us to ask this question, who made us to differ? And what have we that we have not received ? Now the inspiration of che almighty gave us this knowledge and understanding ; it is given to us from above, to be wise in this sense ; that consideration will make us modeft and humble ; and to rejoice and receive inward confolation, yea also to be thankful.
2. It is more imperfect than it might be : for we have not, as we might, awakened our faculties by meditation, mental consideration and searching of scripture ; we can hardly acquit ourselves in discharging ourselves fully and worthily, according to the weight and consideration of the matter, concerning the employing of our faculties of mind and understanding in meditation and mental consideration, that so we might attain as much of this knowledge as might be : we have not been so much of the Bercans