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unreasonable. He that renounces the dictates of his own carnal wisdom, and prosecutes the ways prescribed to him by God, has set to his seal, that God is wise, and infinitely more knowing than himself. For all our disobedience, our relinquishing the ways of God, and adhering to our own, may be resolved into this; that men think they know a nearer way to happiness than God has prescribed them; which, how derogatory it is to the all-knowing wisdom of God, let our own reason be judge. Why do we follow the advice of our physicians and lawyers, but from the opinion we have of their knowledge and experience ? Absalom, by not doing according to Ahithophel's counsel, did in that clearly undervalue his wisdom; and the discredit of that made Ahithophel hang himself. Now the most wise and omniscient God, that knows the utmost of sin, that knows what it is for a sinner to be saved, and to escape the stroke of his justice, does, in order thereto, command us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, to renounce our dearest pleasures, our nearest relations, as they stand in competition with Christ; yea, to prefer the most unpleasant duty before the most pleasing sin. Here flesh and blood is at a stand; and as it cannot endure the strictness and rigour, so neither can it see the reason of these commands. But what Elijah said to Israel in the case of Baal, that I may here apply, Why halt we between two opinions? If God, who has commanded and enjoined these duties, be the allknowing God, why do we not then, without any further delay, perform them? If he be not, why do we then give him divine worship? Wherefore I shall conclude with this most certain truth : there is no
such way of giving God the glory of his infinite knowledge, as by an obediential practice of those duties and commands which seem most to thwart and contradict our own.
3dly and lastly, Since it is an express command of our Saviour himself, that we should be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect; why should we not, according to our weak model, endeavour to copy out this divine perfection upon our soul, as well as any of the rest ? And why, as well as we are commanded to be like him in his goodness, bounty, and mercy, we should not endeavour to resemble him in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, according to our weak capacity ? For this is not to say, as Lucifer, I will ascend, and be like the Most High; nor to follow what he suggested to our first parents, Ye shall be like gods: for had they affected to be like God in knowledge, as they ought to have done, they would have certainly discerned the cheat of the serpent, and the trials which the Devil was then putting upon them. No; it is no arrogance for us to endeavour to be like God, in passing a right and true judgment upon all things that concern us; in judging of holiness, as God judges; in judging of sin, as God judges of every thing relating to our temporal or eternal happiness or misery. God, says the apostle, is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. We do not disparage nor rival the great fountain of light, the sun, by endeavouring to have as much of his light in our houses as we can.
We have our rule and measure to proceed by, in our imitation of our heavenly Father, in this respect, as well as in any other : for as it is the perfection of God to know all
A SERMON ON 1 JOHN III. 20.
things, so it is the excellency of man to know any thing aright.
To God, therefore, be rendered and ascribed,
as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.
JONAH iii. 8, 9.
But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and
cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his
evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away
from his fierce anger, that we perish not? THE business of the day is not unknown to you: we are called by public authority to the work of humiliation; and the cause and occasion of this work you are acquainted with, to wit, the deplorable eruption of a sad distemper in sundry parts of the nation; and the cause of this we are to know is sin. There is no calamity, but, if we track it to its original, we shall find it issue from sin. They are the distempers of the soul that cause the distempers of the body; therefore, if we would recover our bodily health, we must begin the cure at the soul. Fasting and humiliation is a sovereign remedy to evacuate all spiritual distempers; and what is true in physic of the body, .tertia pars morborum sanatur jejunio, that the third part of diseases is cured by fasting, is much more true in divinity in respect of the soul; that not only some, but all its diseases are removed, or at least - weakened and diminished, by a spiritual fasting.
In this chapter we have the example of a fast celebrated by heathens, but worthy of the imitation of
the best Christians; and if we do not fast and humble ourselves, now a judgment is actually lying upon us from God, certainly the men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment against this generation, and condemn it; for they fasted and humbled themselves upon the very approach of a judgment.
Here are several things considerable.
1st, Jonah's denunciation of a judgment of God impendent upon them.
2dly, Their humiliation' upon the hearing of this judgment; in which fast or humiliation there is considerable,
I. The manner of it; which consists in two things :
1st, The external humiliation of the body. 2dly, An internal, spiritual separation from sin.
II. The universal extent of it, Let man and beast, &c. and withal the particular application of it, ver. 8, let them turn every one from, &c.
III. The ground or motive of this humiliation; which was hope of mercy, and a pardon upon the exercise of this duty.
The words will afford several observations.
1st, Thé consideration of a judgment approaching unto, or actually lying upon a people, is a sufficient argument for fasting and humiliation. ver. 4, 5.
2dly, That an afflicting of the body is a good preparative to the humiliation of the soul. ver. 6, 7.
3dly, That the nature of a fast more especially consists in a real, sincere separation from sin. ver. 8.
4thly, That national sins do deserve national humiliation. ver. 5.
5thly, The best and most effectual way to remove