« הקודםהמשך »
TO THE READER.
READER, The embryo of this book was but one Sermon, preached a little before the ending of my public ministry, upon the text of the third Treatise, (upon the occasion intimated in the Epistle to that truly Honourable Lady). Being obliged to communicate the Notes, and unavoidably guilty of some delays, I made a compensation by enlargement; and (having reasons for the publication of them, with which I shall not trouble you,) to make them more suitable to the designed end, I prefixed the two former Treatises : The first I had preached to my ancient flock : of the second I had preached but one sermon. If many of the materials in the second be the same as in the first, you must understand that my design required that it should be so: they being the same attributes of God, which the first part endeavoureth to imprint upon the mind; and which the second and third endeavour to improve into a constant course of holy affection and conversation. As it is the same food which the first concoction chylifieth, which the perfecting concoctions do work over again, and turn into blood, and spirits, and flesh : so far am I in such points from gratifying thy sickly desire of variety, and avoiding the displeasing of thee by the rehearsals of the same, that it is my very business with thee to persuade thee, to live continually upon these same attributes and relations of God, as upon thy daily air and bread; and to forsake that lean, consuming company, who feed on the shells of hard and barren controversies, or on the froth of compliments and affected shows, and run after novelty instead of substantial solid nutriment: And to tell thee, that the primitive, pure, simple Christianity, consisted in the daily serious use of the great materials of the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments, contracted in the words of our baptismal covenant. Do thus, and thou wilt be like those examples of the succeeding church, in aprightness, purity, simplicity, charity, peaceableness, and holy communion with God, when the pretended subtleties and sublimities of wanton, uncharitable, contentious wits, will serve but to strangle or delude their souls. I have purposely been very brief on the several attributes and relations of God, in the first Treatise, because the copious handling of them would have made a very great volume of itself, and because it is my great design in that first part, to give you a sight of all God's attributes and relations conjunct, and in their order; that looking on them, not one by one, but all together in their proper places, the whole image of God, may by them, be rightly imprinted on your minds; the method being the first thing, and the necessary impressions on the soul the second, which I there desire you to observe and employ your minds about, if
THE DIVINE LIFE.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
THE IMPRESSION WHICH IT MUST MAKE UPON THE HEART; AND
ITS NECESSARY EFFECTS UPON OUR LIVES.
JOHN xvii. 3.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true
God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
God is the Principal Efficient, the Supreme Directive, and the Ultimate Final Cause of Man: “ For of him, and THROUGH him, and to him, are all things, and to him shall be the glory for ever.” (Rom. xi. 36.) The new life, or nature in the saints is his image. (Col. iii. 10.) The principle of it is called the Divine Nature. (2 Pet. 1. 4.) The exercise of that principle (including the principle itself) is called the Life of God, (Ephes. iv. 18,) from which the Gentiles are said to be alienated by their ignorance. Therefore it is called Holiness, which is a separation to God from common use; and
God's dwelling in us,” and “ours in him;" (1 John iv. 12, 13;) of whom we are said to be born and regenerate. (1 John iv. 7; John iii. 5.) And our perfection in glory, is our living with God, and enjoying him for ever. GODLINESS then is the comprehensive name of all true religion. Jesus Christ himself came but to restore corrupted man to the love, and obedience, and fruition of his Creator, and at
last will "give up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all, and in all; and the Son himself shall be subject to this end." (1 Cor. xv. 24. 28.) The end of Christ's sacrifice and intercession is to reconcile God and man. The end of his doctrine is to teach us to know God. The end of his government is to reduce us to the perfect obedience of our Maker. It is therefore the greatest duty of a Christian to know God as revealed by his Son; and it is such a duty about our ultimate end as is also our greatest mercy and felicity. Therefore doth the Lord Jesus here in the text describe that life eternal which he was to give to those whom the Father had given him, to consist in “knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he had sent.” My purpose is in this treatise to speak only of the first part of the text, ' The knowledge of God.' And first I shall very briefly explain the text..
THIS—That is, This which I am describing,
LIFE-Life is taken sometimes for the soul's abode in the body, which is the natural life of man: or the soul's continuation in its separated state, which is the natural life of the soul : and sometimes for the perfections of natural life. And that either its natural perfection, that is, its health and vivacity; or its moral perfection or rectitude; and that is either in the cause, and so God is our life, Christ is our life, the Holy Spirit is our life; or in itself; and so holiness is our life in the principle, seed or habit. Sometimes life is taken for the work, employment and exercise of life; and so a holy conversation, is our moral, spiritual or holy life. And sometimes it is taken for the felicity of the living : and so it containeth all the former in their highest perfection, that is, both natural life, and moral spiritual life, and the holy exercise thereof, together with the full attainment and fruition of God in glory, the End of all.
ETERNAL-That is, simply eternal, objectively, as to God the principal object : and Eternal ' ex parte post,' subjectively; that is, Everlasting.
THIS IS LIFE ETERNAL-Not natural life in itself considered, as the devils and wicked men shall have it. But 1. It is the same moral spiritual life which shall have no end, but endure to eternity. It is a living to God in love; but only initial, and very imperfect here, in comparison of what it will be in heaven. 2. It is the eternal felicity, (1.) Se
minally; for grace is as it were the seed of glory. (2.) As it is the necessary way or means of attaining it; and that preparation which infallibly procureth it. The perfect holiness of the saints in heaven, will be one part of their perfect happiness : and this holiness imperfect they have here in this life. It is the same God that we know and love, here and there; and with a knowledge and love that is of the
; same nature seminally: as the egg is of the nature of the bird. (Whether it may be properly said to be formally and specifically the same ' quoad actum,' as well as 'quoad objectum;' yea, whether the 'objectum clare visum,' and the
objectum in speculo vel ænigmate visum,' make not the act specifically differ, I shall not trouble you to dispute.) And this imperfect holiness hath the promise of perfect holiness and happiness in the full fruition of God hereafter. So it is the seed, and prognostic of life eternal.
TO KNOW_Non semper et ubique eodem modo vel gradu ;' Not to know God here and hereafter in the same manner or degree. But to know him here as in a glass, and hereafter in his glory, as face to face. To know him by an affective, practical knowledge: there is no text of Scripture of which the rule is more clearly true and necessary than of this, that words of knowledge do imply affection. It is the closure of the whole soul with God, which is here called the knowing of God. And because it is not meet to name every particular act of the soul, whenever this duty is mentioned, it is all denominated from knowledge, as the first act, which inferreth all the rest. 1. Knowledge of God in the habit, is spiritual life, as a principle. 2. Knowledge of God in the exercise, is spiritual life, as an employment. 3. The knowledge of God in perfection, with its effects, is life eternal, as it signifieth full felicity. What it containeth, I shall further shew anon.
THEE- That is, the Father, called by some divines, • Fons vel fundamentum Trinitatis :' The fountain, or foundation of the Trinity: and oft used in the same sense as the word God, to signify the pure Deity.
THE ONLY-He that believeth that there is more gods than one, believeth not in any. For though he may give many the name, yet the description of the true God can agree to none of them. He is not God indeed, if he be not one only.