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churches, ministers, magistrates, laws and judgments, yea, even health, and plenty, and peace itself, all have their mixture of bitterness or danger, and those the most dangerous commonly that have least bitterness. But in God there is none of all this mixture, but pure uncompounded good. “ He is light; and with him is no darkness.” (1 John i. 5.) Indeed there is somewhat in God that an ungodly man distasteth, and that seemeth in the state that he is in to be against him, and hurtful to him: as is his justice, holiness, truth, &c. - But justice is not evil, because it doth condemn a thief or murderer: meat is not bad, because the sick distaste it. It is the cross position of the sinful soul, or his enmity to the Lord that makes the Lord to use him as an enemy. Let him but become a subject fit for sweeter dealing from God, and he is sure to find it. Leave then the compounded, self-contradicting creature, and adhere to the pure, simple Deity.
3. God's Simplicity must draw the soul to a holy simplicity, that it may be like to God. We that serve a pure, simple God, must do it with simple, pure affections, and not with hypocrisy, or a double heart. His interest in us should be maintained with a holy jealousy, that no other interest mix itself therewith. The soul should attain to a holy simplicity by closing with the simple, infinite God, and suffering nothing to be a sharer with him in our superlative affections. All creatures must keep their places in our hearts, and that is only in a due subordination and subserviency to the Lord: but nothing should take up the least of that estimation, those affections, or endeavours that are his own peculiar. God will not accept of half a heart: A double-minded, double-hearted, double-faced, or doubletongued person, is contrary to the holy simplicity of a saint. As we would not bow the knee to any gods but one, so neither should we bow the heart or life to them. We should know what is God's prerogative, and that we should keep entirely for him. A subordinate esteem, and love, and desire the creature may have, as it revealeth God to us, or leadeth to him, or helpeth us in his work : but it should not have the least of his part in our esteem, or love, or desire. This is the chastity, the purity, the integrity of the soul. It is the mixture, impurity, corruption and confusion of our souls, when any thing is taken
in with God. See therefore, Christian, that in thy heart thou have no God but one, and that he have all thy heart, and soul, and strength, as far as thou canst attain it. And because there will be still in imperfect souls, some sinful mixture of the creature's interest with God's, let it be the work of thy life to be watching against it, and casting it out, and cleansing thy heart of it, as thou wouldst do thy food if it fall into the dirt. For whatever is added to God in thy affections, doth make no better an increase there, than the adding of earth unto thy gold, or of dung unto thy meat, or of corrupted humours and sickness to thy body. Mixture will make no better work.
It may be thy rejoicing, if thou have " the testimony of a good conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, and not in fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, thou hast had thy conversation in the world.” (2 Cor. i. 12.) It is the state of hypocrisy, when one God is openly professed and worshipped, and yet the creature lieth deepest and nearest to the heart.
2. The Invisibility of God also must have its due effects upon us. And, 1. It must warn us, that we picture not God to our eyesight, or in our fancies in any bodily shape. Saith the prophet, “ To whom will you liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him ?” (Isa. xl. 18. 25.) “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of his father, he hath declared him," (John i. 18,) and therefore we must conceive of him but as he is declared, “ Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John vi. 46.) If you
ask me, How then you should conceive of God, if not in any bodily shape ? I answer, Get all these attributes, and relations of God to make their proper impress upon thy soul, as now I am teaching you, and then you will have the true conceiving of God. This question therefore is to be answered at the end of this discourse, when you have seen all the attributes of God together, and heard what impression they must make upon you.
2. This must teach us, to think most highly of the things that are invisible, and more meanly of these visible things. Let it be the property of a beast, and not of a man, to know nothing but what he seeth or hath seen: Let it be
the mark of the brutish infidels, and not of Christians, to doubt of the invisible things, because they are invisible ; or to think that things visible are more excellent or sure.
As the senses are more ignoble than the intellect, (a beast having as perfect senses as a man, and yet no reasonable understanding) so the objects of sense must proportionably be below the objects of the understanding, as such. The grossest and most palpable objects are the basest. It is the subtile part that is called the spirits; which being drawn out of plants or other vegetables, is most powerful and excellent, and valued, when the earthly dregs are cast away as little worth. It is that subtile part in our blood that is called the spirits, that hath more of the virtue of life, and doth more of the works than the feculent, gross and earthly part. The air and wind have as true a being as the earth, and a more excellent nature, though it be more gross and they invisible. The body is not so excellent as the invisible soul. Invisible things are as real as visible, and as suitable to our more noble, invisible part, as visible things to our fleshly, baser part.
3. The Invisibility of God must teach us to live a life of faith, and to get above a sensual life: and it must teach us to value the faith of the saints, as knowing its excellency and necessity. Invisible objects have the most perfect excellent reality; and therefore faith hath the pre-eminence above sense. Natural reason can live upon things not seen, if they have been seen, or can be known by natural evidence (subjects obey a prince that they see not: and fear a punishment which they see not: and the nature of man is afraid of the devils, though we see them not). But faith liveth upon such invisible things, as mortal eye did never see, nor natural ordinary evidence demonstrate, but are revealed only by the word of God: though about many of its invisible objects, faith hath the consent of reason for its encouragement. Value not sight and sense too much. think not all to be mere uncertainties and notions that are not the objects of sense. We should not have heard that God is a spirit, if corporal substances had not a baser kind of being than spirits : Intellection is a more noble operation than sense. If there be any thing properly called sense in heaven, it will be as far below the pure intellective intuition of the Lord, as the glorified body will be below the
glorified soul. But what that difference will be, we cannot now understand. Fix not your minds on sensible things.
. Remember that your God, your home, your portion, are unseen : and therefore live in hearty affections to them, and serious prosecution of them, as if you saw them. Pray, as if you saw God, and heaven, and hell. Hear, as if you saw him that sends his messenger to speak to you. Resist all the temptations to lust, and sensuality, and every sin, as you would do if you saw God stand by. Love him, and fear him, and trust him, and serve him, as you would do if you beheld him. “ Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. xi. 1.) Believing must be to you instead of seeing; and make you as serious about things unseen, as sensual men are about things sensible. In every thing that you see, remember it is he that is unseen that appeareth in them. He lighteth you by the sun; he warmeth you by the fire; he beareth you by the earth. See him in all these by the eye of faith.
3. The Immortality, Incorruptibility and Immutability of God, must, 1. Teach the soul to rise up from these mortal, corruptible, mutable things, and to fix upon that God who is the immortal, incorruptible portion of his saints.
2. It must comfort and encourage all believers in the consideration of their felicity; and support them under the failings of all mortal, corruptible things. Our parents, and children, and friends, are mortal: they are ours to-day, and dead to-morrow : they are our delight to-day, and our sorrow and horror to-morrow; but our God is immortal. Our houses may be burned ; our goods may be consumed or stolen; our clothes, will be worn out; our treasure here may be corrupted. But our God is unchangeable, the same for ever. Our laws and customs may be changed; our governors and privileges changed; our company, and employments, and habitation changed; but our God is never changed. Our estates may change from riches to poverty ; and our names that were honoured, may incur disgrace. Our health may quickly turn to sickness, and our ease to pain : but still our God is unchangeable for ever. Our friends are inconstant and may turn our enemies : our peace may be changed into war; and our liberty into slavery: but our God doth never change. Time will change customs, families, and all things here ; but it changeth not
our God. The creatures are all but earthen metal, and quickly dashed in pieces : Our comforts are changeable; ourselves are changeable and mortal : but so is not our God.
3. And it should teach us to draw as near to God as we are capable, by unchangeable, fixed resolutions, and constancy of endeavours; and to be still the same as we are at the best.
4. It should move us also to be more desirous of passing into the state of immortality, and to long for our unchangeable habitation, and our immortal, incorruptible bodies, and to possess the "kingdom that cannot be moved.” (Heb. xii. 28.) And let not the mutability of things below ( much trouble us, while our Rock, our Portion, is unmoveable. God waxeth not old: heaven doth not decay by duration : the glory of the blessed shall not wither, nor their sun set upon them, nor their day have any night; nor any mutations or commotions disturb their quiet possessions. O love and long for immortality and incorruption !
CHAP. VII. 6. Having spoken of the effects of the attributes of God's essence as such, we must next speak of the effects of his three great attributes which some call subsistential, that is, his omnipotency, understanding, and will; or his infinite power, wisdom, and goodness : by which it hath been the way
of the schoolmen and other divines to denominate the three persons, not without some countenance from Scripture phrase. The Father they call the infinite power of the Godhead; and the Son, the wisdom and word of God, and of the Father; and the Holy Ghost, the love and goodness of God, of the Father, and Son. But, that these attributes, of power, understanding, and will, or power, wisdom, and goodness, are of the same importance with the terms of personality, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, we presume not to affirm. It sufficeth us, I. That God hath assumed these attributes to himself in Scripture. 2. And that man who beareth the natural image of God, hath power, understanding and will; and as he beareth the holy moral image of God, he hath a power to execute that which is good, and wisdom to direct, and goodness of will to determine for the execution: and so while God is seen of us in this glass of