« הקודםהמשך »
we behave our selves just so with the Fa. tber of Spirits.
O the Wandrings of the Hearts of Men in divine Worship! while we are in Communication with our Father and Lord in Prayer, whose Heart is fixed to a constant Attendance and Presence, by the Impression of his glorious Holiness? whose Spirit doth not continually gadd abroad, and take a Word of every Thing that occurs, and so marrs that Soul cor. refpondence? O that this Word, Æ/al. lxxxix. 7. were written with' gfeit Letters on our Hearts, God is greatlj to be feared in the Assembly df the Saiffts, and to be bad in Reference of alt them that are about him: That one Word, God, fpeaxeth all. Either we must convert him into an Idol, which is nothing; or if we'apprehend him t6 be God, w» must apprehend our infinite Distance from him, and his unspeakable, inaccessible Glory above us. He i* greatly feared! and reverericecHn tile Assemblies that art above, in the upper Courts of Angels; those glorious Spirits who must cover their Feet' from us, because we cannot see their Glory; they must cover ttteir Faces from bim, because they cannot beholds his Gloty, Isa- vi. What a glorious Train hath he, and yel how reverend" are they? They Wait round about the Throne, above and about it, as Courtiers upon their King/ortheyareall ministring Spirits, and, they rest not Day and Night to adore and admire that holy One, crying, Holy, H'aly; Holy, the whole Earth' is full of bit Glory. Now, how much' dose then should he" be greatly feared an<s had in Reverence in the Assembly of his Saints", of poor mortal Men, whose Fbun», dation is in the Dust, and in Clay; and besides drink in Iniquity like Water? 'There is two Poihts"or Difference and) Y j » . Dis
consider him or your selves? If I be your Father where is my Honour, and if 1 be your Master where is my Fear? Mai. i. 6. While we call him Father, or Lord, we proclaim this much, that we ought to know our Distance from him, and his Superiority t« us: And if Worship in Prayer carry not this Character, and express not this honourable and glorious Lord, whom we serve, it wants that Congruity and Suitableness to him that is the Beauty of it. Is there aayThfHg more uncomely, than for Children to behave themselves irreverently and irrespectively towards then- Fathers, to whom they owe themsel/es? It is a monstrous Thing even in Nature, and to Nature's Light: O how much more abominable must it be, to draw near to the Father if Spirits, who Made Us, and not we o&fifaes, in whose Hand our Breath it, and whose are all our Ways; in & ■#ord, to whom we owe nor only this* Dost, but the living Spirit that animates it, that was- breathed from Heaven, and' finally, in whom we live, and move, and have our Being, and well-being, to worship such ah one, and yet to behave oUr selves so unseemly and irreverently in1 nis Presence, our Hearts not stricken With the Apprehension of his Glory, but lying flat arid dead before him, having . scarcely him in our Thoughts whom we ipeafc to; and finally, our Deportments ib his Sight, are such, as could not Be admitted in the Presence of any Persona little above our selves, to beabout to speak to them, ahd yet to turn aside continually to every one that coraeth by, and entertain Communication with'every base Creaturi ; this, I fay, in •lie Presence of a King, or Nobleman, would be accounted such an absurd In civility, as could be committed; and yet
Distance from us ; he is nearer Angels, for Angels are pure spirits, but we We Firm, which is furthest removed from his Nature: And then Angels are holy and clean \ yet that is but spotted to his unspotted Holiness; but we are defiled with Sin, which putteth us farthest off from him, and which his Holiness hath greatest Antipathy at. Let us consider this, my beloved, that we may carly the impression of the glorious Holiaefs and Majesty of God on our Hearts, when ever we appear before him, that so we may JerVe and rejoice with trembling, and pray with reverence and godly Fear: If we apprehend indeed our own Quality and Condition, how low, how base it is, how we cannot endure the very clear Aspect of our own consciences, we cannot, look on our selves stedfastly without Shame and Confusion of Face, at the deformed Spectacle we behold, much Jess would we endure to have our Souls opened and presented to the View of other Men, even the basest of Men, we would be overwhelmed with Shame as if they could see into our hearts ? Now then, apprehend seriously what he is, how glorious in Holiness? How infinite in wisdom, how the Secrets of your Souls are plain and open in his Sight? And I am persuaded, you will be composed to a reverend, humble and trembling .Behaviour in his Sight.
But withal, I must add this, That because he is your Father, you may interm mike confidence ; nay, you are commanded so to do, and this honours him as much as Reverence; for Confidence in God, as our Father, is the best Ac. inowledgrasiit of the Greatness and Goodness of God; it declareth how aible Se'is to save us, and how willing, and
so ratifieth all the Promises of God made to us, and settetb to a Seal to his Faithfulness: There is nothing he account* himself more honoured by, than a Soul's full resigning it self to him, and relying upon his Power and Good-will in all Necessities, casting its Care upon him, as a loving Father, who caretb for us. And truly, there is much Beauty and Harmony in the Juncture of th se two, Rejoicing with Trembling, Confidence withReverence, to ask, nothing doubting, and yet sensible of our infinite Distance' from him, and the Disproportion of our Requests to his Highness. A child-Ike Disposition is composed thus, as also the Temper and Carriage of a Counter hath these Ingredients in it- The Love of his Father, and the Favour of his Prince, mafceth him take Liberty, and assume Boldness; and withal he is not unmindful of his own Distance from his Father or Master, Let us draw near with fun Assurance of Faith, Heb. x. a. There is much in the Scripture, both exhorted1, commanded, and commended, of that' mfpntii, that Liberty and Boldness of pouring out our Requests to God, as one that certainly will hear us, and grant that which is good. Unbelief spoileth all, it is a wretched and base-spirited Thing, that can conceive no hoaourable Thoughts of God, but only like it self; but Faith, which is the well-pleasing Ingredient of Prayer: The lower Thoughu a Man have of himself, it maketh him conceive the higher and more honourable of God. My way s are not as your Ho nor my thoughts as your Thoughts, but as far above, as the Heaven-above the Earth, Isa. Iv, 8. This is the Rule of a believing Souls conceiving of God, and expecting from him: And when * Soul is thus placed on God, by trusting
and believing in him, it is fixed, My heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord, Ffal. cxxvii. 7. O how wavering and inconstant is a Soul, till it fix at this Anchor, upon the Ground of his immutable Promises? "Tis tossed up and down with every Wind, 'tis double-minded: Now one Way, then another; now in one Mind, and shortly changed: And indeed the Soul is like the Sea, capable of the least or greatest commotion, James i. 6, 7, 8. I know not any Thing that will either fix your Hearts from wanderingin Prayer, or establish your Hearts from Trouble and Disquiet after it, nothing that will so exoner and ease your Spirits of Care as this, to lay hold on God as All-sufficient, and lay that Constraint on your Hearts, to wait on him and his Pleasure, to cast your Souls on his promises, that are so full and so free, and abide there, as at your Anchor-hold, in all the Vicissitudes and Changes of outward or inward Things. Injpiritual tfbings that concern your Salvation, that which is absolutely necessary, you may take the boldness to be absolute in it, and as Job, ^though he should fay me, yet will I trust in thee; and as Jacob, I will not let thee go till thou bless me: But either in outward things, that have some usefulness in them, but are not always fittest for our chiefest Good; •r in the Degrees of spiritual Gifts, and Measures of Graces', the Lord calls us without Anxiety to pour out our Hearts in them unto him; but withal we would do it with submission to his pleasure, because he knows best what is best for us. In thef, we are not bound to'be consilient to receive the Particular we ask, but rather our Confidence should pitch upon his Goodwill and Favour, that he will certainly deny nothing that himself
knows is*good for us: And so in these we should absolutely cast our selves with Carefulness upon his loving and fatherly Providence, and resign our selves to him to be disposed of in them as he sees convenient. There is sometimes too much Limitation of God, and Peremptorinese used with him in such things, in which his Wisdom craves a Latitude both in publick and private Matters, even as men's affections and Interests »reingaged ; but ordinarily 'tis attended and followed with Shame and Disappointment in the End : And there is on the other Hand intolerable Remissness and Slackness in many, in pressing even the weightiest Petitions of Salvation, Mortification, &c. which certainly ariseth from the Diffidence and Unbelief of the Heart, and the Want of that rooted Perfwaiion, both of the incomparable Necessity and Worth of the things, themselves, and of his Willingness and Engagement to bestow them.
The Word is doubled here, ^Abba, Father, the Syriack and Greek Word signifying one Thing, expressing the ten- , der Affection and Love of God towards them that come to him. He that cometb to God must believe that be is, and that be is a Rewarder of them that seek him diligently; so he that cometh to God must believe that he hath the Bowels and Compassion of a Father, and will be more easily inclined with our importunate Cries, than the fathers of our flesh : He may suffer his Children to cry long, but it is not because he will not hear, but because he would hear them longer, and delights to hear their Cry oftener. If he delay, 'tis his Wisdom to appretiate and endear his Mercies to us, and to teach its to press our Petitions, and sue for an Answer,
Besides, this is much for our Comfort, that from whomsoever, and whatsoever Corner in the World Prayers come up to him, they cannot want Acceptance: All Languages, all countries, all I'laces are sanctified by Jesus Christ, that whosoever calls upon tbe Name of the Lord, from tbe Ends of the Earth, (ball he saved: And truly it is a sweet Meditation to think, that from the Ends of the- Earth, the Cries of Souls are heard; and that the end is as near Heaven as (be Middle v and a Wilderness as near'
as a Paradise; that though we understand not one another, yet we have one loving and living Father that understands all our meanings; and so the different Languages and Dialects of the Members of this Body make no Confusion in Heaven, but meet together in his Heart and Affection, and are one Perfume, one Incense, sent up from the whole Catholic Church, which here is scattered on the* Earth, O that the Lord would persuade us to cry this Way to our Father in it cur Noceffities!
Fellowship with GOD:
XXVIII, SERMONS oothe i. Epistle of John, Chap. i. and ii.
Wherein the true Ground and Fonndation of attaining the spiritual Way of intertaining Fellowship with the Father and the Son, and the blessed Condition of such as attain to it, are most succinctly and dilucidly explained.