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all the aforesaid mercies in the way, are not matter for continual delight, there is no greater to be thought on. Rejoicing always in the Lord, even in our sharpest persecutions, is a great part of religious duty; Phil. iii. 1. iv. 4. Psal. xxxiii. 1. Zech. x. 7. Matt. v. 11, 12. Deut. xii. 12. 18.
24. It overcometh both the danger and the fear of death; and that must be good, which conquereth so great an evil; and maketh the day of the ungodly's fears, and utter misery, to be the day of our desire and felicity; Rom. vi. 23. 1 Cor. xv. 55. Col. iii. 1. 4. Phil. iii. 21.
25. It obligeth all the rulers of the world to use all their power to do good; against all sin within their reach; and to make their subjects happy both in body and soul; Rom. xiii. 3-6.
26. It appointeth churches to be societies of saints, that holiness and goodness combined may be strong and honourable; 1 Cor. i. 1. 2 Cor. i. 1. Heb. iii. 13. 1 Thes. v. 12, 13. That holy assemblies employed in the holy love and praises of God might be a representation of the heavenly Jerusalem; Col. ii. 5.
27. It doth make the love and union of all the saints to be so strict, that the mercies and joys of every member might extend to all; all the corporal and spiritual blessings of all the Christians, (yea, and persons) in the world are mine as to my comfort, as long as I can love them as myself: if it would please me to be rich, or honourable, or learned myself, it must please me also to have them so, whom I love as myself. And when millions have so much matter for my joy, how joyfully should I then live! And though I am obliged also to sorrow with them, it is with such a sorrow only, as shall not hinder any seasonable joy.
28. In these societies every member is bound to contribute his help to the benefit of each other; so that I have as many obliged to do me good, as there be Christians in the world; at least, according to their several opportunities and capacities; by prayer and such distant means, if they can do no more. And the religion which giveth every man so great an interest, in the good of all others, and engageth all men to do good to one another is evidently good itself; 1 Cor. xii. Ephes. iv. 15, 16.
29. And all this good is not destroyed, but advantaged
and aggravated accidentally by our sin so that where sin abounded, there grace did superabound; Rom. v. 15-19. Grace hath taken occasion by sin to be grace indeed, and to be the greater manifestation of the goodness of God and the greater obligation for gratitude to the
30. Lastly, all this goodness is beautified by harmony; it is all placed in a perfect order. One mercy doth not keep us from another; nor one grace oppose another; nor one duty exclude another. As it is the great declaration of mercy and justice wonderfully conspiring in God (mercy so used as to magnify justice; justice so used as to magnify mercy, and not only so as to consist); so also it worketh answerably on us. It setteth not love against filial fear, nor joy against necessary sorrow, nor faith against repentance, nor praise and thanksgiving against penitent confession of sin, nor true repentance against the profitable use of the creatures, nor the care of our souls against the peace and quiet of our minds, nor care for our families against contentedness and trusting God, nor our labour against our necessary rest, nor self-denial against the due care of our own welfare, nor patience against due sensibility and lawful passion, nor mercy to men against true justice, nor public and private good against each other, nor doth it set the duty of the sovereign and the subject, the master and the servant, the pastor and the flock, nor yet their interest, in any contrariety; but all parts of religion know their place; and every duty (even those which seem most opposite) are helpful to each other; and all interests are co-ordinate, and all doth contribute to the good of the whole, and of every part; Ephes. iv. 2, 3. 15, 16.
And now peruse all this together (but let it have more of your thoughts by far, than it hath had of my words), and then determine indifferently, whether the Christian religion bear not the lively image and superscription of God, the Prime Essential Good.
But all this will be more manifest, when we have considered how Power hath in the execution, brought all this into effect.
The Image of God's Power.
III. THE third part of God's image and superscription on the Christian religion, is his power. And as man's own corruption lieth more in the want of wisdom and goodness, than of power; therefore he is less capable of discerning God, in the impressions of his wisdom and goodness, than of his power. Seeing therefore he is here most capable of conviction, and acknowledging the hand of God, I shall open this also in the several parts, in some degree.
1. In the history of the creation, the omnipotency of God is abundantly set forth; which is proved true, both by the agreeableness of the history to the effects, and by much subsequent evidence of the writer's veracity.
2. The same may be said of God's drowning the old world, and the preserving of Noah and his family in the ark.
3. And of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven.
4. The many miracles done by Moses upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and in the opening of the Red Sea, and in the feeding of the Israelites in the wilderness, and keeping their clothes from wearing for forty years; and the pillar which went before them as a fire by night, and a cloud by day, for so long a time; and the darkness, and thunder, and trembling of the mount at the giving of the law; with the rest of the miracles then done, not in a corner, or before a few, but before all the people; who were persuaded to receive and obey the law, by reason of these motives which their eyes had seen. And if all this had been false; if no plagues had been shewn on Egypt; if no Red Sea had opened; if no pillar had gone before them; if no such terrible sights and sounds at Mount Sinai had prepared them for the law; such reasons would have been so unfit to have persuaded them to obedience, that they would rather with any reasonable creatures, have procured contempt.
And to shew posterity that the history of all this was not forged, or to be suspected; 1. They had the law itself then delivered in two tables of stone, to be still seen. 2.
They had a pot of manna still preserved. 3. They had the miracle-working rod of Moses and Aaron kept likewise as a monument. 4. They had an ark on purpose to keep these in, and that in the most inviolable place of worship. 5. They had the brazen serpent (till Hezekiah broke it) still to be seen. 6. They had the song of their deliverance at the Red Sea for their continued use. 7. They had set feasts to keep the chief of all these things in remembrance. They had the feast of unleavened bread, which all Israel was to observe for seven days, to keep the remembrance of their passing out of Egypt in so great haste, that they could not stay to knead up, and make their bread, but took it as in meal or unready dough. They had the feast of the passover, when every family was to eat of the Paschal Lamb, and the doorposts to be sprinkled with blood, to keep in remembrance the night when the Egyptians' first-born were destroyed, and the Israelites all preserved. And if these had been instituted at that time, upon a pretended occasion which they knew to be untrue, they would rather have derided than observed them. If they had been afterwards instituted in another generation which knew not the story, the beginning would have been known, and the fiction of the name and institution of Moses would have been apparent to all; and the institution would not have been found in the same law which was given by Moses. And it could not have been so expressly said, that the Israelites did all observe these feasts and solemnities from the very time of their deliverance but in those times when the forgery began, all would have known it to be false. 8. And they had many other words and ceremonies among them, and even in God's public worship, which were all used to keep up the memory of these things. 9. And they had an office of priesthood constantly among them, which saw to the execution and preservation of all these. 10. And they had a form of civil policy then established, and the rulers were to preserve the memory of these things, and the practice of this law, and to learn it themselves, and govern by it. So that the very form of the commonwealth, and the order of it was a commemoration hereof. And the parents were to teach and tell their children all these things, and to expound all these solemnities, laws and ceremonies to them so that the frame of church, and state, and families, was a preservative hereof.
5. But, to pass by all the rest in the Old Testament, the incarnation of Christ was such a work of omnipotent love, as cannot by us be comprehended. That God should be united to humanity in person! That humanity should be thus advanced into union with the Deity! and man be set above the angels! That a virgin should conceive! That men from the east should be led thither to worship an infant by the conduct of a star (which Cæsarius thinks was one of those angels or spirits which are called a flame of fire; Psal. civ. 4.)! That angels from heaven should declare his nativity to the shepherds, and celebrate it with their praises! That John the Baptist should be so called to be his forerunner, and Elizabeth, Zachary, Simeon and Anna, should so prophesy of him! That the Spirit should be seen descending on him at his baptism, and the voice be heard from heaven, which owned him! That he should fast forty days and nights! and that he should be transfigured before his three disciples on the mount, and Moses and Elias be seen with him in that glory; and the voice from heaven again bear witness to him! These, and many such like were the attestations of Divine omnipotency to the truth of Christ.
6. To these may be next joined, the whole course of miracles performed by Christ, in healing the sick, and raising the dead; and in many other miraculous acts, which are most of the substance of the Gospel history, and which I have recited together in my "Reasons of the Christian Religion;" see Heb. ii. 2-4.
7. And to these may be added, the power which was given over all the creatures, to Christ our Mediator. All power in heaven and earth was given him; Job xvii. 2. xiii. 3. Matt. xxviii. 19. Rom. xiv. 9. Ephes. i. 22, 23. He was made Head over all things to the church, and all principalities and powers were put under him. And this was not barely asserted by him but demonstrated. shewed his power over the devils in casting them out; and his power over angels by their attendance; and his power of life and death, by raising the dead; and his power over all diseases, by healing them; and his power over the winds and waters, by appeasing them; and his power over our food and natures, by turning water into wine, and by feeding many thousands miraculously. Yea, and his power