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which he commanded not. (Lev. x. 1, 2.) And Aaron was awed into silence by this account from God. “ I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” (ver. 3.) Take heed lest irreverence, or deadness, or customary, heartless, wordy services, should be brought before a Holy God. Take heed of hypocritical, carnal worship. The Holy God will not be mocked with compliments and shows.
CHAP. XIX. 18. The next attribute of God to be spoken of is, his Veracity, Truth, and Faithfulness. This is the result of his perfect wisdom, goodness and omnipotency: For because he is most wise and powerful, he cannot be necessitated to lie; And because he is most good, he will not lie. Though God speaketh by none but a created voice, and signifieth his will to us by men, that in themselves considered are defectible, yet what he maketh his voice shall speak truth; and what he chooseth to signify his will, shall truly signify it. He therefore condemneth lying in man, because it is contrary to his own veracity. For if any should say that God is under no law, and therefore is not bound to speak truth, or not deceive a prophet or apostle by his inspirations; I answer, that he hateth lying as contrary to his perfect nature, and is himself against it, and cannot possibly be guilty of it, because of his own perfection; and not because he is under a law. Lying comes from some imperfection, either of knowledge, power, or goodness, which can none of them befall the Lord. The goodness of the creature is a goodness of conformity to an obliging law; and the goodness of the law is a goodness of conformity to, and expressive of the good will of God. But the Goodness of God is a perfection of essence, the primitive goodness, which is the fountain, and standard, and end of all other good; and not a goodness of conformity to another.
And this attribute of God is of very great use to his servants. 1. From hence we must be resolved for duty, and for a holy, heavenly life: because the commands of God are serious, and his promises and threatenings true. If God were not true, who tells us of these great eternal things, then might we excuse ourselves from godliness, and justify the worldling in his sensual way: There is nothing of common
sense and reason that can be said against a holy life, by a. man that denieth not the Truth of God or of his word. And to deny God's Truth, is most unreasonable of all. O sirs, when you read and hear of the wonderful weighty matters of the Scripture, of an endless life, and the way thereto;
if these things be true, " what manner of persons you should be, in all holy conversation and godliness !” (2 Peter iii. 11.) If the word be true, that telleth us of death and judgment, and heaven and hell, is it time for us to sin, to trifle, and live unready!
2. The Truth of God is the terror of his enemies. O happy men, if their unbelief could make void the threatenings of God, and doubting of them would make them false ! and if their misery were as easily remedied as denied ; and ended as easily as now forgotten! or forgotten hereafter as easily as now! But true and righteous is the Lord, and “ from the beginning his word is true.” (Psal. cxix. 16.) Not a word shall fall to the ground, nor a jot or tittle pass unfulfilled.
3. The Truth of God is the ground of faith, and the stay of our souls and the rock of all our confidence and comfort: A Christian did not differ from another man (unless in being somewhat more deluded) if God were not true. But this is the foundation of all our hopes, and the life of our religion, and all that we are as Christians, proceeds from this. Faith is animated by God's Veracity, and from thence all other graces flow, or are excited in us. O Christians, what a treasure is before your eyes, when you open the blessed Book of God! What life should it put into your confidence and comforts, to think that all these words are true! All those descriptions of the everlasting kingdom, and all those exceeding precious promises of this life, and that which is to come, and all the expressions of that exceeding love of God unto his servants, all these are the true sayings of God. “ A faithful witness will not lie,” (Prov. xiv. 5, much less will the faithful God. “Eternal life is promised by God that cannot lie.” (Titus i. 2.) “ Wherein God willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set be
fore us." (Heb. vi. 17, 18.) Let faith therefore live upon the truth of God, and let us be strengthened, and rejoice therein.
4. Abhor all doctrines which deny the truth and faithfulness of God, for they destroy the ground of Christian faith, of all divine faith, and all religion. The Veracity of God is the formal object of all divine faith: We believe God, because he cannot lie: If he can lie, and do lie, he is not credible. But you will say, Is there any that hold such odious doctrines? Answ. I like not the charging of persons with the consequences of their opinions which they discern not, but disclaim: God will not charge them with such consequences, who do their best to know the truth, and why should we ? All men have some errors, whose consequences contradict some articles of faith. It is not the
that I persuade you to dislike, but the doctrine. And the doctrine is never the less to be abhorred, because a wise or good man may hold that which doth infer it.
I shall now instance only in the Dominicans' predetermination. They that hold that it is necessary to the being of every circumstantiated act, natural and free, that God be the principal immediate physical efficient predetermining cause of it, do hold that he so causeth all the false speeches and writings, (as well as other sins) that ever were spoken or written in the world : not only as they are acts 'in genere,' but as these words in particular; as that he so predetermined the tongues of Ananias and Sapphira to say
very words which they said, rather than others : Now seeing it is apparent, 1. That God hath not a voice, but speaketh to us by a created voice, even by prophets and apostles, and that the Scripture was written by men. 2. And that God's Veracity, which is the formal object of our faith, consisteth in his not using lying instruments, nor sending a lying messenger to us; (it is · Veracitas revelantis per alium.') 3. And that no way of inspiration can make God to be any more the cause of the words or writings of an apostle, than his immediate physical efficient specifying predetermination doth (for it can do no more than irresistibly as the first cause, physically to premove the agent to his thought, will, word, or deed, considered with all its circumstances). It followeth that we have no certainty when God premoveth an apostle or prophet to speak true, and when to speak falsely; and that no words or writings are of certain truth upon any ac
count of God's inspiration or premotion, because God not only can, but doth cause all the untruths that are spoken or written in the world : therefore no faith in God's revelations hath any sure foundation, nor any formal object at all: And so all religion is dashed out at a stroke. To say that God causeth not the falsity of the word, nor the word as false, but the word which is false, might well be the justification of them that affirm Gud to be but the universal cause of the word or act in genere,'as a word or act; and that the specification is only from the sinner. But in them that say he is the particular cause of this word comparatively, rather than another, it is but a contradiction : 1. For there is no other cause of the falsity, which is a mere relation, but that which causeth the rule and the word or writing which is false, and so layeth the foundation. 2. It overthroweth all certainty of faith, if God speak to us by his instruments, those words that are false : The 'quod falsum,' as well as the 'qua falsum,' leaveth us no ground of certainty. The Dominicans therefore have but one task in which their hope is placed, to excuse their opinion from plain obliterating all divine belief and religion, and that is, to prove that there is so great a difference between inspiration and their physical predetermination, that God cannot by inspiration premove to an untruth, though by physical predetermination he may: This is their task, which I see not the least possibility that ever they should perform. If God premove, and predeterminate every will, and tongue, and pen, to every lie that is spoken or written, more potently and irresistibly than I move my pen in writing, it is past my power to understand what more he can do by inspiration, to interest him in the creature's act: or at least how the difference can be so great as that one of the ways he can predetermine all men to their falsities, and none the other way. But of this I have written a large disputation; yet think it not needless, even in a practical treatise to say thus much here.
5. The Truth of God much' teach us to hate every motion to unbelief in ourselves and others: It is a heinous sin to give God the lie, though he speak to us but by his messengers. Every honest man, so far as he is honest, is to be believed; and is God less true ? A graceless gallant will challenge you to the field for the dishonour, if you give him
the lie. If you deny God's veracity, you do not only equal him with the worst of men, but with the devil, who was a liar from the beginning. Yea, you may make him incapable of being the Governor of the World, or suppose him to govern it by deceits and lies. Abhor therefore the first motions of unbelief: it makes men somewhat worse than devils ; for the devils know that God cannot lie, and therefore they believe and tremble. Unbelief of the truth of the word of God, is the curse of the soul; the enemy and bane of all grace and religion, so far as it prevaileth: Let it be the principal care and labour of your souls, to settle the foundation of your faith aright, and to discern the evidence of Divine authority in the holy Scriptures, and to extirpate the remnants of infidelity in your hearts.
6. Let the Truth and Faithfulness of God engage you to be true and faithful to him, and to each other. You have promised him to be his servants; be faithful in your promises: You are in covenant with him; break not your covenant. Many a particular promise of reformation you have made to God: Prove not false to him that is true to you.
Be as good as your word to all men that you have to do with. Abhor a lie, as the offspring of the devil, who is the father of it: Remember you serve a God of Truth: and that it is the rectitude and glory of his servants to be conformable to him. They say the Turks are offended at Christianity, because of the lies and falsehood of Christians. But sure they were but nominal Christians, and no true Christians that ever they found such : And it is pity that Christianity should be judged of through the world, by the lives of them that never were Christians but from the teeth outward, and the skin that was washed in baptism. They - that will lie to God, and covenant to be his holy servants, when they hate his holy service, will lie to man, when their commodity requireth it. When they seem to repent, and honour him with their tongues ; “They flatter him with their mouth, and lie to him with their tongues; for their heart is not right with him, neither are they steadfast in his covenant.” (Psal. Ixxviii. 34-37.) God saith, “ Ye shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie one to another.” (Lev. xix. 11.)
“ A righteous man hateth lying.” (Prov. xiii. 5.) “ The lying tongue is but for a moment, (Prov. xii. 19,)