« PreviousContinue »
joy and confidence then be banished from the vernor only: and he was not governor, till he earth, and be renounced by all the sons of had creatures to govern : and he could not be a
just governor when he was no governor.
The denomination did not arise till the creation had CHAP. XVI.
laid the foundation. Many questions may be There are yet several subordinate attributes resolved hence, which I will not trouble you to of God, that being comprised in the fore-men- recite. tioned,
may be passed over with the briefer touch. Justice in God is the perfection of his nature, The next that I shall speak of is, his freedom. as it gives every one his due, or governs the God is free in more senses than one: but for world in the most perfect order for the ends of brevity, I shall speak of all together.
government. Because he is just, he will reward 1. God hath a natural freedom of will, being the righteous, and distinguish between the godly determined to will by nothing without him, nor and the wicked : for that governor that uses all liable to any necessity, but what is consistent alike, is not just. The crown of righteousness is with perfect blessedness and liberty. His own given by him as a righteous judge. being, blessedness, and perfections, are not the 1. The justice of God is substantially (in men objects of his election ; and therefore not of that we call it an inclination) in his nature, and so it which we call free-will : but all his works with- is eternal. out, as creation, providence, redemption, &c. are 2. It is founded formally in his relation of gothe effects of his free will: not but that his will vernor. concerning all these, hath a necessity of exist- 3. It is expressively, first, in his laws : for as a ence: for God did from eternity will the crea- just governor he made them suited to the subtion, and all that is done in time ; and therefore jects, objects, and ends. from eternity that will existing, had a necessity 4. It is expressively, secondly, in his judgments of existence : but yet it was free, because it pro- and executions; which is when they are accordceeds not necessarily from the very nature ofi ing to his law; or in the cases of penalty where God. God was God before he made the world, he may dispense at least according to the state or redeemed it, or did the things that are daily of the subject, and fitted to the ends of governdone. Therefore one part of the schoolmen ment. maintain, not only that there is contingency from (1.) The justice of God is the consolation of God, but that there could be no contingency in the just: he will justify them whom his gospel the creature, if it had not its original in God: justifies, because he is just. The justice of the liberty of God being the fountain of contin- God in many places of scripture, is taken for his gency.
fidelity in vindicating his people, and his judging 2. There is also an eminency both of dominion for them, and procuring them the happy fruits and sovereignty in God, according to which he of his government, and so is taken in a consolamay be called free. His absoluteness of pro- tory sense. 'Justice and judgment are the habipriety frees him from the restraint of any obli- tation of thy throne ; mercy and truth shall go gation, but what flows from his own free will, before thy face.'—' It is a righteous thing with from disposing of his own as he pleases. And God to recompence tribulation to them that trouhis absolute sovereignty frees him from the obli- ble us, and rest to the troubled.' gation of his own laws, as laws, though he will (2.) The justice of God is the terror of the unstill be true to his promises and predictions. godly. As he would not make unrighteous laws, Let man therefore take heed how he questions for the pleasure of unrighteous men, so neither his Maker, or censures his laws, or works, or will he pass unrighteous judgment. But look
what a man sows, that shall he also reap. All
his peremptory threatenings shall be made good, CHAP. XVII.
and his wrath poured out for ever upon imAnother attribute of God is his justice. With penitent souls, because he is the righteous God. submission, I conceive that this is not to be said to be from eternity, any otherwise than all God's
CHAP. XVIII. relations are, as Creator, Redeemer, &c. because Another of God's attributes is his holiness. there is no time with God. For though the He is called holy. 1. As he is transcendently blessed nature denominated just is from eternity, above and separated from all the creatures, in yet not the formality or denomination of justice. i comparison of whom the heavens are not clean ; For justice is an attribute of God, as he is go- | and from whom all things stand at an infinite
distance. 2. As the perfection of his nature is conformity to his predictions, and decreeing will the fountain of all moral good ; first, in the holi- as such. It is a separation to God, but not every ness of his law, the rule of holiness; second, in the separation : Pharaoh was set apart to be the pasholiness of the soul, and, third, in his holy judg- sive monument of the honour of God's name: ments. And consequently as this perfect nature and Cyrus was his servant to restore his people, is contrary to all the moral pollution of the crea and yet not thus holy : but it is a separation ture, lothing iniquity, forbidding and condemn- from common and unclean uses ; and a purgation ing it. That perfect goodness of the will of from polluting vice, and a renovation by recepGod, from whence flow holy laws, and motions, tion of the image of God's holiness, whose nature and the holiness of the soul of man, is it that is to incline the soul to God, and devote it wholly scripture means usually by God's holiness ; rather to him ; both in justice, because we are his own, than the foresaid distance from the creatures. and in love, because he is most holy and perfectly Therefore his holiness is usually given as the good. reason of his laws and judgments, and of his en- The third subject of holiness is those creatures mity to sin : and our holiness is called his image that are but separated to holy uses, and these (who imitate not his transcendency) and we are have but a relative holiness; as the temple, the commanded to be holy as he is holy. The nature holy utensils, the Bible as to the materials, the of the image will best tell us what holiness is in minister as an officer, the people as visible memGod. Holiness in us is called the divine nature, bers, &c. and therefore is radically a right inclination and All these must be reverenced and honoured disposition of the soul; which hath its rise from by us, according to the proportion of their holitranscendent holiness in God, even as our wisdom ness. Our principal reverence must be to the from his transcendent wisdom, and our being holy word of God : for holiness is more perfrom his being. Holiness therefore being in- fect there than in our souls. The holiness of deed the same with the transcendently moral the word, which is it that the ungodly hate or goodness of God, which I have spoken of be- quarrel at, is the glory of it in the eyes of holy fore, I shall say but little of it now.
may much discern a holy and an unthe holiness of God be known.
holy soul, by their loving or not loving a holy 1. It must cause us to have a most high and law; especially as it is a rule to themselves. A honourable esteem of holiness in the creature, distaste of the holiness of scripture, and of the because it is the image of the holiness of God. holiness of the writings of divines, and of the Three sorts of creatures have a derivative holi- holiness of their preaching, or conference, disness : the first is the law; which is the mere
covers an unholy soul. A love to holy doctrine signification of the wise and holy will of God shows that there is somewhat suitable to it in the concerning man's duty, with rewards and penal- soul that loves it. It is the eulogy of the scripties, for the holy governing of the world! This tures, the promises, the covenant, the prophets is the nearest image of God, engraven upon that and apostles, that they are all holy. The holiseal which must be the instrument of imprinting ness of the scripture doth make it as suitable and it in our souls. Now the holiness of the word savoury to a holy soul, as light is suitable to the is not the mere product of the will of God, eye-sight, and sweetness to the taste: and thereconsidered as a will; but of the will of God fore it is to them as the honey comb. But to considered as holy, that is, as the infinite, trans- the unholy it is a mystery, and as foolishness, cendent, moral goodness in the architype or ori- and that which is contrary to their disposition, ginal. For all events that proceed from God, and they have an enmity to it: which makes a are the products of his will, which is holy, but wonderful difference in their judging of the evinot as holy, as the creating, preserving, disposing dences of scripture verity, and much facilitates of every ily, or fish in the sea, or worm in the the work of faith in one sort, and strengthens earth, &c. There is somewhat therefore in the unbelief in the other. Holy doctrine is the glass nature of God, which is the perfection of his that shows us the holy face of God himself, and will, and is called holiness, which the holiness of therefore must needs be most excellent to his the law flows from and expresses.
saints. This holy word is the immortal seed that be- 2. And we must honour and love also the gets holiness in the soul, which is the second boliness of the saints : for they also bear theinsubject of derived holiness ; and this our holiness age of the Lord. Their holy affections, prayers, is a conformity of the soul to the law, as the discourses, and conversations must be beautiful product of the holy will of God, and not a mere l in our eyes: and we must take heed of those
temptations, that either from personal injuries therefore present our bodies a living sacrifice, received from any, or from their blots or holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service, imperfections, or from their meanness in the for we are chosen in Christ before the foundaworld, or from the contempt, reproach, and slan- tion of the world, that we should be holy, and ders of the ungodly, would draw us to think dis- without blame, and are redeemed and sanctified honourably of their holiness. He that honours by Christ, that we may be presented glorious, the holy God, will honour his image in his holy holy, and without blemish. See therefore that people. “In his eyes a vile person will be .con- you · follow holiness, without which no man shall temned, but he will honour them that fear the see the Lord. For · blessed are the pure in heart, Lord.'-—' The saints on earth are the excellent for they shall see him.' in his eyes, and his delight is in them.' The 3. The holiness of God must be to us breathings of divine love in the holy prayers, standing, unanswerable argument to shun all praises and speeches of the saints, and their rev- temptations that would draw us to be unholy, erend and holy mention of his name, are things and to confound all the words of wicked men that a holy soul doth sweetly relish, and take that are spoken against holiness. Remember pleasure in, as we would do to hear an angel but that God is holy, and if thou like that which speak of the holy things of the invisible glory. is spoken against God, thou art his enemy.
3. Relative holiness itself, though the lowest, Think on the prophecy of Enoch, · Behold the must be honoured by us. Holy offices and per- Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to sons in them must be reverenced for their rela- execute judgment upon all, and to convince all tive holiness. Holy ordinances, which also par- that are ungodly among them, of all their unticipate of the holiness of the law, must be rev- godly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, erently used. Due reverence must be given even and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly to that which is lawfully by men devoted to a sinners have spoken against him.'—'God will holy use, as are temples, and utensils of worship, not hold him guiltless that taketh his holy name and the maintenance dedicated to the service of in vain ;' much less that blasphemeth holiness, God. That which is holy, must not be de- which is the perfection of his blessed nature. voured, por used as we do things common and 4. The holiness of God must possess us with unclean.
a sense of our uncleanness, and further our hu2. God's holiness must make us holy: we must miliation.
When Isaiah heard the seraphim fall in love with it, and wholly conform ourselves cry, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the unto it. Every part of sanctifying grace must whole earth is full of his glory,' he said, “Woe be entertained, cherished, excited, and used by is me, for I am undone ; because I am a man of
Sin must be lothsome to us, because it is unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people contrary to the holiness of God. No vile insect of unclean lips ; for mine eyes have seen the King, should seem to us so ugly. A dead carcass is the Lord of Hosts.' an unpleasant sight, because it shows us a priva
5. The holiness of God must cause us to walk tion of natural life: but an unholy soul is in- continually in his fear, and to take heed of all comparably a more lothsome, ghastly, sight, be- the affections of our souls, and even of the mancause it shows us the privation of the life of ner of our behaviour, when we come near to him holiness. No man can well know the odiousness in his holy worship. What suffered the Bethof sin, and the misery and lothsomeness of the shemites for irreverent looking into the holy ark, unholy soul, that knows not the holiness of God. and Uzzah but for touching it? And what a Speak unto all the congregation of Israel, and dreadful example is that of the two sons of say unto thein, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord Aaron, that were slain by a devouring fire from your God am holy.'— Sanctify yourselves there- the Lord, for offering strange fire which he comfore, and be ye holy, for I am the Lord your manded not. And Aaron was awed into silence God.'— As he that hath called us is holy, so by this account from God: “I will be sanctified must we be holy in all manner of conversation.'- in them that come nigh me, and before all the 'It is an holy calling wherewith we are called people I will be glorified. Take heed lest irWe are sanctified to be “a peculiar people to reverence, or deadness, or customary, heartless Christ.– That denying ungodliness and worldly wordy services, should be brought before a holy lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and God. Take heed of hypocritical, carnal worship. godly in this present world! We are made ‘an The holy God will not be mocked with compliholy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifice, ac- ments and shows. ceptable to God, by Jesus Christ. We must
misery were as easily remedied as denied; and The next attribute of God to be spoken of, is ended as easily as now forgotten! or forgotten his veracity, truth and faithfulness. This is the hereafter as easily as now! But true and rightresult of his perfect wisdom, goodness, and om- eous is the Lord, and from the beginning his nipotency: for because he is most wise and word is true, not a word shall fall to the ground, powerful, he cannot be necessitated to lie: and nor a jot or tittle pass
unfulfilled. because he is most good, he will not lie. Though 3. The truth of God is the ground of faith, God speaks by none but a created voice, and and the stay of our souls, and the rock of all our signifies his will to us by men, that in themselves confidence and comfort: a Christian did not differ considered are defectible; yet what he makes his from another man unless in being somewhat more voice, shall speak truth; and what he chooses to deluded, if God were not true. But this is the signify his will, shall truly signify it. He there foundation of all our hopes, and the life of our fore condemns lying in man, because it is con- religion, and all that we are as Christians protrary to his own veracity. For if any should ceeds from this. Faith is animated by God's say that God is under no law, and therefore is veracity, and from thence all other graces flow, not bound to speak truth, or not deceive a pro- or are excited in us. O Christians, what a treaphet or apostle by his inspirations ; I answer, sure is before your eyes, when you open the that he hates lying as contrary to his perfect blessed book of God! What life should it put nature, and is himself against it, and cannot into your confidence and comforts, to think that possibly be guilty of it, because of his own per- all these words are true! All those descriptions fection ; and not because he is under a law. Lying of the everlasting kingdom, and all those exceedcomes from some imperfection, either of know-ing precious promises of this life, and that which ledge, power, or goodness, which can none of them is to come, and all the expressions of that exbefal the Lord. The goodness of the creature ceeding love of God unto his servants, all these is a goodness of conformity to a binding law; and are the true sayings of God. A faithful witthe goodness of the law is a goodness of confor- ness will not lie, much less will the faithful God. mity to, and expressive of the good will of God. Eternal life is promised by God that cannot lie. But the goodness of God is a perfection of es- Wherein God willing more abundantly to show sence, the primitive goodness, which is the foun- unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of tain, standard, and end of all other good ; and his counsel, confirmed it by an oath ; that by two not a goodness of conformity to another. immutable things, in which it was impossible for
This attribute of God is of very great use to God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, his servants. 1. From hence we must be re- who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the solved for duty, and for a holy, heavenly life: hope set before us.' Let faith therefore live upon because the commands of God are serious, and the truth of God, and let us be strengthened, and his promises and threatenings true. If God were rejoice therein. not true, that tells us of these great eternal things, 4. Abhor all doctrines which deny the truth then might we excuse ourselves from godliness, and faithfulness of God, for they destroy the and justify the worldling in his sensual way: ground of Christian faith, of all divine faith, and there is nothing of common sense and reason all religion. The veracity of God is the formal that can be said against a holy life, by a man object of all divine faith : we believe God, bethat denies not the truth of God, or of his word. cause he cannot lie: if he can lie, and do lie, he And to deny God's truth, is most unreasonable is not credible. But you will say, of all. I beseech you when you read and hear that hold such odious doctrines ? Answ. I like of the wonderful weighty matters of the scrip- not the charging of persons with the consequenture, of an endless life, and the way thereto ; ces of their opinions which they discern not, bethink
you, if these things be true, ' what man- but disclaim : God will not charge them with ner of persons you should be, in all holy conver- such consequences, who do their best to know the sation and godliness! If the word be true, that truth, and why should we? All men have some tells us of death, judgment, heaven and hell, errors, whose consequences contradict some artiis it time for us to sin, to trifle, and live un- cles of faith. It is not the persons that I persuade ready?
you to dislike, but the doctrine. The doc2. The truth of God is the terror of his ene- trine is never the less to be abhorred, because a mies. O happy men, if their unbelief could wise or good man may hold that which doth inmake void the threatenings of God, and doubting fer it. of them would make them false! and if their I shall now instance only in the Dominicans
Is there any
predetermination. They that hold that it is ne- and their physical predetermination, that God cessary to the being of every circumstantiated cannot by inspiration premove to an untruth, act natural and free, that God be the principal, though by physical predetermination he may: immediate, physical, efficient, predeterminating this is their task, which I see not the least possicause of it, hold that he so causes all the false bility that ever they should perform : if God speeches and writings, as well as other sins, that premove, and predeterminate every will, tongue, ever were spoken or written in the world : not and pen, to every lie that is spoken or written, only as they are acts in general, but as these more potently and irresistibly than I move my words in particular; so that he so predetermined pen in writing, it is past my power to understand the tongues of Ananias and Sapphira to say those what more he can do by inspiration, to interest very words which they said, rather than others : him in the creature's act: or at least how the Now seeing it is apparent, (1.) That God hath not difference can be so great as that one of the a voice, but speaks to us by a created voice, even ways he can predetermine all men to their falsiby prophets and apostles, and that the scripture ties, and none the other way. But of this I have was written by men : (2.) And that God's vera- written a large disputation ; yet think it not city, which is the formal object of our faith, con- needless, even in a practical treatise, to say thus sists in his not using lying instruments, nor
much here. sending a lying messenger to us : (3.) That no 5. The truth of God must teach us to hate way of inspiration can make God to be any every motion to unbelief in ourselves and others: more the cause of the words or writings of an it is a heinous sin to give God the lie, though apostle, than his immediate, physical, efficient, he speak to us but by his messengers : every specifying predetermination doth; for it can do honest man, so far as he is honest, is to be beno more than irresistibly as the first cause, phy- lieved: and is God less true? A graceless galsically to actuate the agent to this thought, will, lant will challenge you the field for the dishonour, word, or deed, considered with all its circum- if you give him the lie. If you deny God's vestances. It follows that we have no certainty racity, you do not only equal him with the worst when God actuates an apostle or prophet to speak of men, but with the devil, who was a liar from true, and when to speak falsely; and that no the beginning. Yea, you may make him incawords or writing are of certain truth upon any pable of being the governor of the world, or supaccount of God's inspiration or promotion, be- pose him to govern it by deceits and lies. Abu cause God not only can, but doth cause all the hor therefore the first motions of unbelief. It untruths that are spoken or written in the world: makes men somewhat worse than devils ; for therefore no faith in God's revelations hath any the devils know that God cannot lie, and theresure foundation, nor any formal object at all : fore they believe and tremble. Unbelief of the and so all religion is dashed out at a stroke. To truth of the word of God, is the curse of the say that God causes not the falsity of the word, soul; the enemy and bane of all grace and renor the word as false, but the word which is ligion, so far as it prevails. Let it be the principal false, might well be the justification of them that care and labour of your souls, to settle the founaffirm God to be but the universal cause of the dation of your faith aright, and to discern the word or act in general, as a word or act; and evidence of divine authority in the holy scripthat the specification is only from the sinner. tures, and to extirpate the remnants of infidelity But in them that say he is the particular cause in your hearts. of this word comparatively, rather than another, 6. Let the truth and faithfulness of God enit is but a contradiction : 1st. For there is no gage you to be true and faithful to him, and to other cause of the falsity, which is a mere rela- each other. You have promised him to be his tion, but that which causes the rule, and the word servants ; be faithful in your promises : you are or writing, which is false, and so lays the foun- in covenant with him: break not your covenant. dation. 2d. It overthrows all certainty of faith, Many a particular promise of reformation you if God speak to us by his instruments, those have made to God : prove not false to him that words that are false : the agent being false as is true to you. well as the thing, leaves us no ground of certain- Be as good as your word to all men that you ty. The Dominicans therefore have but one have to do with. Abhor a lie, as the offspring task in which their hope is placed, to excuse of the devil, who is the father of it: remember their opinion from plainly obliterating all divine you serve a God of truth : and that it is the belief and religion, and that is to prove that rectitude and glory of his servants to be conthere is so great a difference between inspiration, formable to him. They say the Turks are of