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The great instances of wickedness.
PSALM V. 4, 5. Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, &c.
Am now in the second place, to declare those things that are matters of God's offence, of his hatred
and displeasure ; upon which occasion he parts with his creatures, and puts away his creature from him, who is declared to be the great lover of souls, and one that hates nothing that he hath made, but doth all things worthy infinite goodness to bring his creatures to good ; and he doth fully answer the re. lation he stands in to his creatures.
Now those things that are matters of God's offence and of the creatures ruin, are such as do not at all agree either with the creature's state and relation, or not at all answer his capacity. And that I may speak distinctly, I rank them into these four orders.
First, Things contrary to the due respect and re-gard which we ought to bear towards God.
Secondly, Things that are contrary to the general love and good-will, which ought to run through the whole creation of God.
Thirdly, Things contrary to that justice, fairness, righteousness, and equal dealing, which ought to be among fellow-fervants, among fellow-creatures.
Fourthly, Things contrary to the fobriety, chastity, temperance, and due moderation of ourselves. And under these heads I shall digest all the immoralities that are in the world ; things that are perfectly contrary to the nature and spirit of religion, highly offenfive to God, ruinous and mischievous to creatures.
First, Things that are contrary to the due respect and regard which we ought to bear to God. Of these we may say in the language of the text, they are works of iniquity, wickedness; for it is our very tenure as we are creatures, to observe God according to our power. This is engraven upon every creature, this is the state of a creature ; to be fully and plainly subject to God, according to our capacity and power. This I shall make apparent from the confideration of what God is in himself, and what he is to us, and that in six particulars.
1. God's almighty power, that requires our greatest reverence, and most humble submission : not only becaule we cannot resist, for who can stand up against omnipotency ? But we ought to do it, as being satisfied in our own reason that it becomes us to do it, and as it is expressive of our duty and obedience,
2. His abundant goodness, that requires our daily praises ; and this is a great piece of our devotion, to sing praises to our God, to magnify him for his goodness.
3. God's infinite wisdom, that doth require our highest admiration : for we admire things of excellency, especially things of art and skill.
4. His absolute holiness, that calls for our conformity and imitation ; for we cannot write after a bet
ter copy. We should propose to ourselves the best, if we would be directed.
5. His faithfulness to us, that requires our sincerest affections ; God is our truest friend, most careful of us, most faithful to us. We should not fatisfy ourselves with counterfeit devotion. He is worthy of our most sincere affection ; therefore I advise that men would not satisfy themselves to come into God's presence, to confess themselves sinners, and to think this is religion, to make this acknowledgment. We ought to pursue these prayers, and every time we can make some progress in holiness and obedience, be more careful to perform what before we did confess we have neglected, be more watchful over ourselves. Let us not think it sufficient to confess and
but we must pray and reform. For if our prayers and devotions be not instruments of piety, they are worth nothing; if not engagement to a more confcionable and holy walking, we deceive ourselves, and dishonour God; for the prayers of the wicked are an abomination to God.
6. God's calling us into being, raising us out of nothing, requires our obedience ; fo God speaks by the prophet, Mal. i. 6. If I be a father, where is my honour? It is the tenour of the fifth commandment; if obedience and honour be due to earthly parents, certainly it is much more due to him that is the ori. ginal of all beings.
Now unless there be an alienation of our faculties from their proper objects; there be an alienation of our mind and understanding from God, (which is the trueft facrilege,) which are God's peculiar, God's
appropriate, God's reserve ; (for there is a stamp of God
upon them, they are powers and faculties in order to God; motion towards God, is their proper motion ; mind and understanding are for God ;) unless, I say, there be an alienation of these faculties from God, which is their proper object ; there will be no satisfaction to the reason of our minds, if these acts now mentioned be not performed. We may live in hurry,' we may put ourselves off from ourselves, and reject the sense of our minds ; but whenfoever we are at leisure, till we contract reprobacy of mind, there will, on reflection upon ourselves, be no fatisfaction, if these acts be not performed ; for they are the proper use of these powers and faculties; we had better have been without them, and these highest faculties been mere sense and imagination, than be alienated from God.
Of the things that are contrary to this due regard we ought to bear towards God, I will instance in three particulars. 1. To use the name of God lightly.
2. To attest God to what is false. 3. To use the name of God for base ends and purposes.
1. To use the name of God lightly : to use his name for a form of words, when we have no sense of God in our minds. We ought not to name God without some sense of his sacred majesty at that time in our minds, nec Deres interfit, nisi dignus vindice nod!s; do not name God, except something worthy of God do call for it ; unless you speak something that reflects to his honour, or something that doch invoke his direction ; for otherwise this fhews that we have Night thoughts of God. I do not love to hear a man
fay, God knows it ; if at that time he thinks not of him. Not but that we may use the name of God at all times, (for God is all in all to us) if there be an acknowledgment of his infinite perfections, and his grace and goodness for guidance and direction ; but that which I speak against, is, to use his name flightly ; when it is a form of words, and no sense of him is upon our minds. But the second thing that follows, is far worse.
2. To attest God to what is false, to produce him as a witness to a lie. Jer. xxiii. 10. because of swearing, on this fashion, the land mourneth. Ecc. ix. 2. Distinction is made between him that sweareth, and him that feareth an oath. Let men consider what they do ; for when they swear by God, and appeal to him as a witness that they are in the truth, in fo doing they deposite and pawn their souls in God's hands for the truth of what they say, and expose themselves to all God's plagues and vengeance. For if it be not true, it is in effect as much as to say, God punish, God plague and destroy me, according to my demerit, if this be not true. And let us remember, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, Heb. x. 21. Wherefoever God is appealed to as teflis, there he is also judex & vindex. Where God is a witness, there he is a judge and avenger. Now if there be so great caution and wariness to be used in cafe of swearing, which in cases and circumstances is lawful and warrantable, yea necessary; that is, where there is truth in the matter, and importance in the case ; what account then can be given of curfing in the name of God, in such forms of words as