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but a sordid pleasure, unworthy of a reasonable nature ? And suppose there were no God, what can he lose but his fleshly lusts, by believing there is one? By believing and confessing a God, a man ventures no loss; but by denying him, he runs the most desperate hazard if there be one. For this exposes him to the most dreadful wrath and vengeance of God. If there be a hotter receptącle in hell than another, it will be reserved for the atheist, who strikes and fights against God's very being.
(4.) Atheists are worse than heathens : for they worshipped many gods, but these worship none at all. They preserved some notion of God in the world, but these would ba. nish him from both heaven and earth. They degraded him, but these would destroy him. Yea, they are worse than the very devils: for the devils are under the dread of this truth, That God is. It is said they believe and tremble, Jam. ii. 19. It is impossible for them to be atheists in opinion; for they feel there is a God by that sense of his wrath that torments them. There may be atheists in the church, but there are none in hell. Thus atheism is a most dreadful evil, most carefully to be guarded against.
Inf. 2. Seeing there is one only the living and true God, we owe the most perfect and unlimited obedience to his will. We are to obey the will of his command with readiness and alacrity; and submit to the will of his providence with the utmost cheerfulness, without fretting or murmuring.
Inf. 3. Is God one? then his children should live in unity, that they may be one as he is one. They should study to be one in judgment and opinion, one in affection, and one in practice. We should all live as the family of one God, carefully avoiding divisions, and whatever may tend to inter. rupt the communion of saints.
Inf. 4. Seeing God is one, he should be the cenire of our affections, love, fear, delight, joy, &c. Deut. vi. 4, 5. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.'
I shall conclude all with a few directions.
1. Beware of such opinions as tend to atheism, and aim at the undermining of this supreme truth, that God is. There are many opinions which have a woful tendency this way. Such is that of denying the immortality of the soul. This is a stroke at a distance at the very being of God, who is the Supreme Spirit. There is an order among spirits ; first the souls of men, then angels, and then God. Now, these degrees of spirits are, as it were, a rail and fence about the sense we have of the being and majesty of God. And such as deny the immortality of the soul, strike at a distance at the eternity and existence of the Deity.
Another opinion is, that men of all religions shall be saved; so that it is no matter what religion a man be of, if he walk according to the principles of it, and be of a sober moral life. In these latter times some are grown weary of the Christian religion, and by an excess of charity betray their faith, and plead for the salvation of heathens, Turks, and infidels. But ye should remember, that, as there is but one God, and one heavenly Jerusalem, so there is but one faith, and one way by which men can come to the enjoyment of God there. Such libertine principles have a manifest tendency to shake people loose of all religion. To make many doors to heaven, as one says, is to widen the gates of hell.
Another opinion tending to atheism is, the denying of God's providence in the government of the world. Some make him an idle spectator of what is done here below, asserting that he is contented with his own blessedness and glory, and that whatever is without him is neither in his thoughts nor care. Many think that this world is but as a great clock or machine, which was set a-going at first by God, and afterwards left to its own motion. But if ye exempt any thing from the dominion of providence, then you will soon run into all manner of libertinism. If Satan and wicked men may do what they will, and God be only a looker-on, and not concerned with human affairs, then ye may worship the devil, lest he hurt you, and fear men, though God be propitious to you.
2. Beware of indulging sin. When ye take a liberty to sin, and gratify your vile and sordid lusts, you will hate the law that forbids it ; and this will lead you to a hatred of the Lawgiver ; and hatred of God strikes against his very being. When once you allow yourselves an indulgence to sin, you will be apt to think, that there were no God to punish me for my crimes !' and would gladly persuade yourselves that there is none ; and will think it your
only game to do what he can to rop out the notions of God in your own minds, for your own quiet, that so ye may wallow in sin without remorse.
3. Prize and study the holy scriptures, for they shew clearly that there is a God. There are more clear marks and characters of a Deity stamped upon the holy scriptures than upon all the works of nature. Therefore converse much with them. By this means was Junius converted from atheism. His father perceiving him to be so atheistical, caused lay a Bible in every room, so that into whatsoever room he entered, a Bible haunted him; and he fancied it upbraided him thus : Wilt thou not read me, atheist? wilt thou not read me?' Whereupon he read it, and was thereby converted. I say then, study the holy scriptures, and in doing so, learn to submit your reason to divine revelation. For some men, neglecting the scriptures, and going forth in the pride of their own understandings, have at last disputed themselves into flat atheism.
4. Study God in the creatures as well as in the scriptures. The creatures were all made to be heralds of the divine glory, and his glorious being and perfections appear evidently in them. Hence saith the Psalmist, Psal. xix. 1–4. The heavens declare the glory of God? and the firmament sheweth his handy-work, day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech, nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world in them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.' The world is sometimes compared to a book, and sometimes to a preacher. The universe is like a great printed book, wherein God sets forth himself to our view ; and the great diversity of creatures which are in it, are as so many letters, out of which we may spell his name. And they all preach loudly unto us the glorious being and excel lencies of God. And therefore the apostle tells us, Rom. i. 20. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. In the book of the creatures God hath written a part of the excellency of his name ; and should learn to read God wherever he hath made himself legible to you. VOL. I.
5. Lastly, Ye who re yet sinners, lying in your natural state of sin and misery, come unto God in Christ, and receive him as your God by faith, and so ye will be preserved from atheism. And ye who are believers in Christ, be often viewing God in your own experiences of him. Have you not often found God in the strengthening, reviving, and refreshing influences of his grace upon your souls? Have ye not had sweet manifestations of his love? Have you not had frequent refreshing tastes of his goodness, in pardoning your iniquities, hearing and answering your prayers
, , supplying your wants, and feasting your souls? The reviewing of such experiences will be a mighty preservative against atheism. Can you doubt of his being, when you have been so often revived, refreshed, and supported by him? The secret touches of God upon your hearts, and your in. ward converses with him, are to you a clearer evidence of the being of God, than all the works of nature.
OF THE HOLY TRINITY.
1 John v. 7. For there are three that bear record in hea.
ven : the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.
'N the 5th verse of this chapter, John lays down a fun
damental article of the Christian faith, That Jesus is the Son of God; and brings in the witnesses of this truth, Ver. 7. and 8. The text condescends on the divine heavenly witnesses. Where, consider,
1. Their number, three, viz. three persons.
2. Their names, the Father, the Word, that is, the Son, so called, because he reveals the Father's mind, and the Holy Ghost. And here is noted the order of their subsisting also.
3. The majesty and glory of these witnesses; they are in heaven, manifesting their glory there, and from it have borne record; which should make the inhabitants of the world to believe their testimony.
4. Their act: They bear record to this truth.
5. Their unity: They are one, one God; not only one in consent and agreement, but one thing, one substance, one essence.
The doctrine evidently arising from the words is,
Doct. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.'
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
I. Explain the terms mentioned in the doctrine, the God. head, and a person,
II. Shew that there are three persons in the Godhead.
IV. Demonstrate that these three persons are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
V. Evince the weight and importance of this article of the Christian faith.
VI. Lastly, Deduce a few inferences.
I. I am to explain the terms mentioned in the doctrine, the Godhead, and a person.
1. By the Godhead is meant the nature or essence of God, Acts xvii, 29. even as by manhood is understood the nature of man. Now the Godhead is but one, there being but one God,
2. A divine person, or a person in the Godhead, is the Godhead distinguished by personal properties, Heb. i. 3. where Christ the Son of God is called the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. For consider the Godhead as the fountain or principle of the Deity, so it is the first person ; consider it as begotten of the Father, it is the second ; and as proceeding from the Father and the Son, it is the third person.
II. Our next business is to shew that there are three persons in the Godhead. This is confirmed by the scriptures both of the Old and New Testament.
1. The Old Testament plainly holds forth a plurality of persons in the Godhead, Gen. i. 26. God said, let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.' Chap. iii. 22.
And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.' This cannot be understood of angels : for man is said to be created after the image of God, but never after the image of angels; and the temptation was, “ Ye shall be as gods, not as angels. Nor must it be conceived, that God speaks so after the manner of kings; for that way of speaking is used rather to note modesty than royalty. But when God speaks so as to