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after premising some things concerning God's attributes in general, 363. this doctrine is drawn from them, not much different from the words themselves, viz. That God is an allknowing God, 366. This is indeed a principle, and therefore ought to be granted; yet since it is now controverted and denied by the Arminians, 366. and the Socinians, 367. it is no less needful to be proved. In prosecution of this,
I. The proposition is proved, and that both by scripture, 368. and by reason, 369. Under this head we are exhorted to the knowledge of God in Christ, 369.
II. Is shewn the excellency of God's knowledge above the knowledge of men or angels, 371. And this appears,
1. From the properties of this knowledge. Now its first property is the exceeding evidence, and consequently the certainty of it, 371. Its second property is this, that it is a knowledge independent upon the existence of the object or thing known, 373. For God beholds all things in himself, and that two ways; 1st, By reflecting upon his power, and what he can do; he has a perfect knowledge of all possibilities, and of things that may be produced, 373. Adly, By reflecting upon his power and his will; he knows whatsoever shall be actually produced, 379.
2. The excellency of God's knowledge appears in respect of his objects, which are all things knowable; but they may be reduced to three especially, which God alone perfectly knows, and are not to be known to men or angels. 1st, The nature of God himself, 374. 2dly, Things future, 374. 3dly, 'The thoughts of men, 379.
III. Is shewn, by way of application, that the consideration of God's omniscience may serve as an argument to press several duties upon us. 1st, It must be a strong motive to bring us to a free confession of all our sins to God, 380. 2dly, It may enforce us to an humble submission to all God's commands and directions, and that both in respect of belief, 382, and of practice, 383. 3dly, That as we are .commanded to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect, we should endeavour to resemble him in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, that we make a true judgment of every
thing relating to our temporal or eternal happiness or mi
A FAST SERMON, PREACHED IN 1658.
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? P. 387.
We are called this day by public authority to the work of humiliation; and the occasion of this work is the deplorable eruption of a sad distemper in sundry parts of the nation; and the cause of this, we are to know, is sin.
In this chapter we have the example of a fast celebrated by heathens, (the men of Nineveh,) but worthy of the imitation of the best Christians, 387.
Here are several things considerable. 1. Jonah's denunciation of a judgment of God impendent
2. 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, 388. Adly, An internal, spiritual separation from sin, 388.
II. The universal extent of it, and the particular application of it, ver. 8.
III. The motive of it, which was hope of mercy, and a pardon upon the exercise of this duty.
The words will afford six considerations, which are here discussed.
1st Observation. The consideration of a judgment approaching unto, or actually lying upon a people, is a sufficient argument for fasting and humiliation: 1st, Because in every judgment God calls for hurniliation; they are the alarms of the Almighty, by which he terrifies and awakens
sleepy souls, 389. 2dly, It deserves our humiliation: though this be an unpleasing duty to the flesh, yet it is abundantly countervailed by the greatness of the trouble it does remove, 390.
2d Observation. The affliction of the body is a good preparative to the humiliation of the soul: 1st, Because the operations of the soul do much follow the disposition and temper of the body, 391. 2dly, Because afflicting of the body curbs the flesh, and makes it serviceable to the spirit, 391.
3d Observation. The nature of a fast especially consists in a real, sincere separation from sin. The truth of this will appear from these considerations ; 1st, That fasting is a spiritual duty, 394. 2dly, The nature of a fast chiefly consists in a separation from sin, because this is the proper end of it, 395.
4th Observation. National sins deserve national humiliation, 397. 1st, Because a general humiliation tends most to solve the breach of God's honour, 398. 2dly, Generality gives force and strength to humiliation, 398.
5th Observation. The best way to avert a national judgment, is for every particular man to inquire into and amend his own personal, particular sins. This is proved, 1st, Because particular sins oftentimes fetch down general, universal judgments, 398. which God sometimes inflicts upon that account, 1st, To shew us the provoking nature of sin, 399. Or else because, though the sin is particular in respect of the subject and cause of it, yet it may be general in respect of its contagion. Adly, Because if there were no personal, there could be no national sin, 400. 3dly, Because God takes special notice of particular sins, 402. 4thly, No humiliation can be well and sincere, unless it be personal and particular, 403.
6th Observation. Upon our serious humiliation for, and forsaking of our sins, there is sufficient argument in God's mercy to hope for a removal of the severest judgment, 405. which will appear, 1st, Because God has promised it, 405. 2dly, Because God has often removed judgments upon a
sincere humiliation, 407. 3dly, Because in this God attains the ends of his judgments, 407.
MATTHEW v. 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. P. 411. Our Saviour begins his sermon in the mount with seven or eight such propositions as are paradoxes and absurdities to the maxims and practices of the carnal world ; and these he ushers in with the text, in which we have two things considerable.
1st, A quality, or disposition recommended by our Saviour, which is poverty of spirit, 411. In treating whereof,
I. The nature of this poverty of spirit is declared, (1.) Negatively, by shewing what it is not; as,
1. A mere outward indigence, and want of all the accommodations of common life, 412.
2. A sneaking fearfulness and want of courage ; there being nothing base in nature that can be noble in religion, 414.
(2.) Positively, by shewing what it is; and it may be said properly to consist in these two things :
1. An inward sense and feeling of our spiritual wants and defects, 417
2. A sense of our miserable condition by reason of such want, the wretchedness whereof appears from these two considerations: (1.) That we are unable, by any natural strength of our own, to recover and bring ourselves out of this condition, 420. (2.) That during our continuance under it we are exposed, and stand obnoxious to all the curses of the law, 423.
II. The means are shewn, by which this poverty of spirit may be obtained, 425. Now there are three ways by which, through the concurrence of the Holy Ghost with our endeavours, we may bring ourselves to it:
1. By a frequent, deep, and serious considering of the relation we stand in towards God, 426.
2. By being much in comparing ourselves with the exceeding exactness, perfection, and spirituality of the divine law, 431.
3. By making a due and spiritual use of all those afflictions and cross events, that the providence of God is pleased to bring us under, 434. The
Second general head considered is, the ground and argument upon which this poorness of spirit is recommended ; namely, that it entitles him who has it to the kingdom of heaven, 436. In the words, theirs is the kingdom of heaven, two things are worthy remark. 1. The thing promised, the kingdom of heaven ; which here signifies not only the future state of glory allotted for the saints in the other world; but that whole complex of blessings, that is exhibited to mankind in the gospel, 437. 2. The manner of the promise; which is in words importing the present time; not theirs shall be, but theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
SERMONS XLIII. XLIV.
JOB viii. 13.
The hypocrite's hope shall perish. Sincerity and hypocrisy are the two great things about which the whole stress of the gospel is laid out; namely, to enforce the one, and to discover and detect the other, 440.
Two things explained, to clear the words. 1. What is meant by the hypocrite : all hypocrites may be comprehended under these two sorts. (1.) The gross dissembler, who knowingly pursues some sinful course, endeavouring only to conceal it from the eyes of men, 440. (2.) The formal, refined hypocrite, who deceives his own heart, and is the person spoken of in the text, 441.
2. What is meant by his hope, which is, those persuasions a man has, that he is now in a state of grace, and consequently shall hereafter attain to a state of glory: and this hope may be distinguished into two degrees ; 1. A probable opinion, 442. 2. A peremptory persuasion, 442,