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honour to be imitated, in what is imitable by us. Certainly, it is a sign that we love and esteem whatsoever we strive and endeavour to resemble; and count that excellent and perfect, which we would have found in ourselves: and, therefore, as it is a pleasure to any man, to observe others how they eye and imitate his actions, because it is a testimony of honour and respect which they give him; so is it a delight to God, to observe the endeavours of a holy soul in imitating his perfections, for this is a sign and evidence that they do highly venerate them. And,
Secondly. We glorify God, by performing those duties which his attributes oblige us unto.
For there are many incommunicable attributes of God, which it were impiety or folly for us to attempt the imitation of. Such are his absolute eternity, both before and after all time: his infiniteness and immensity, filling all places, yea infinitely exceeding all: the perfect simplicity and incomposition of his nature, his immutability and unchangeableness, and his independency and self-sufficiency. In none of these, can we be like unto God. But yet these projver and incommunicable attributes enforce and lay upon us many duties, by the conscientious performance of which we ought to glorify God : for we are bound to glorify him, not only in his holiness, and justice, and goodness; but in his eternity, unchangeableness, omnipotence, and omniscience, although indeed in a different manner. The former we ought to glorify, by conforming ourselves to them: the latter we ought to glorify, by performing the duties which they oblige us unto.
Let us therefore consider, in particular, how we ought to glorify God in several of his attributes.
1st. 1 shall begin with his Holiness and Purity.
This is an attribute, than which none is more frequently ascribed unto God in Scripture: The Holy God, and The Holy One of Israel. Yea it is spoken of, as if all the rays of God's glory were contracted into this one attribute: glorious in holu ness: Exod. xv. 11. And, therefore, if God accounts his holiness his most shining and illustrious attribute, it is but reason that we should glorify him in that, wherein he esteems himself most glorious: for what is it to glorify God, but to express how glorious he is? and shall we not therefore especially glorify him in that, wherein he is most glorious?
If, then, you would glorify God in his holiness, you must do it by being conformable to it, This is no arrogance, nor proud presumption; but your stated duty: for God hath prefixed his holiness, as the example and motive of yours. So we have it, Lev. xi. 44. Ye shall be holy, for I am holy: which is again repeated and pressed upon them, chap. xix. 2. and chap. xx. 7. Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy: which the Apostie likewise quotes and transcribes, 1 Pet. i. 15,16. As he, which hath called you, is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; As it is written, Be ye holy; for I am lioly.
(1st) Now the true notion of Holiness, is, a Separation from all Sin and Impurity.
This is the holiness of God; in whose most pure essence there is not the least shadow of any thing that is culpable, nor can there be. And this holiness thou oughtest to glorify, by resembling it as perfectly as thy finite human nature can bear so bright an impress.
[1st] Other of God's attributes may be glorified, whether thou wilt or no.
He hath glorified his Almighty Power, in creating this great world out of a huge nothing. He hath glorified his Wisdom, in the beautiful order and harmonious government of the world; conducting all things sweetly and powerfully, by his own counsels, to his own ends. He hath glorified his Goodness, by spreading a bountiful table for all living things, and richly providing for all their necessities. These and other of his attributes he hath abundantly glorified: and he might have so done, although mankind had never been created; but the earth had been only filled with brute creatures, and heaven with angels to observe them. But, there is no method to glorify his Holiness here below, which he accounts the chiefest part of his glory, and the most precious jewel in his diadem; no method I say to glorify this, but only by our being holy and pure, in conformity to his holiness. And, what! wilt thou suffer God's chief glory to lie obscure and neglected? Shall he be glorified in every attribute and perfection of his nature, but only that wherein he is most transcendently glorious?
Consider, again, , '• •
[2dly] Thou ownest and acknowledgest thyself to be God's: at least I am sure thou wouldest willingly be found so at the Last and Great Day.
And, what! dost thou think that God will claim thee to be his, when thou wearest the Devil's mark and brand upon thee? Whose image and superscription dost thou bear? God's image, by which he knows his own, is Holiness stamped upon them. God doth, as it were, strike a tally, when he sanctifies any soul: he communicates his holiness to it; and, in that, his image and similitude: nor will he own that person, at the Last Day, who cannot produce this tessera, this tally, and prove himself to be God's by his conformity unto him. Now, O Sinner, thou, that wallowest in the filth of all manner of pollutions, canst thou ever hope to be owned by God, as one of his, when thou retainest all the characters of the Devil deeply imprinted on thee? What badge, what cognizance hast thou, to make it known that thou art God's? a human nature, gospel ordinances and privileges? and so have thousands had, who are now in hell. Wherein is thy likeness and similitude unto God? possibly, thou resemblest him in thy knowledge and understanding; and hast a great measure of wisdom and prudence bestowed upon thee: possibly, thou resemblest him in power and authority; and he hath stamped that part of his image upon thee, exalting thee in digpity and honour above others: possibly, thou resemblest him likewise in thy beneficence; and art kind and charitable, and helpful to those who stand in need of thee. It is well. But, yet, this is not that image, that God will own thee by. He requires a nearer resemblance of himself, in thy holiness and purity; and, whatsoever else thou mayest think to produce will stand thee in no stead; for, without holiness, no man shall see God.
(2dly) Now, holiness and purity expresseth itself against sin Two ways: in the Hatred, and in the Flight of it.
[1st] Therefore glorify God in his holiness, abhorring and hating every sin. Hate it, wheresoever it is found; but, especially, in thyself. Hate it, in others: hate their vices, but yet love their persons; both which thou wilt best perform, if thou labourest by rebukes, exhortations, admonitions, and counsels, to destroy sin in them. But, especially, hate it in thyself: for, certainly, if thou hatest a toad or a serpent wherever it be, thou hast more reason to hate it crawling in thine own bosom. And,
[2dly] Eschew and avoid all sin for the future; yea, all the appearances, and all the occasions of it. Dread nothing so piuch as a polluted, defiled conscience.
And, whilst thou thus sincerely endeavourest to keep thy soul pure and spotless, thou mayest, with unspeakable joy, expect that God will glorify his mercy upon thee, who thus glo. rifiest his holiness in thyself.
2dly. Another attribute of God, which we ought especially to glorify, is his Mercy and Goodness.
Indeed, these two words, of Mercy and Goodness, are often promiscuously used, to signify one and the same gracious disposition of God towards his creatures. Yet, if we more accurately consider it, there seems to be this differenceJietween them; that goodness is of a much larger extent and latitude than mercy. For mercy, properly, connotes misery in the object towards which it is expressed : but goodness may be as well expressed towards the happy, as towards the wretched and miserable. It was an effect of God's infinite goodness, to create the world; to continue the glorious angels in that blessed estate, in which they now stand; to preserve the frame of nature in its course, and every creature in its being: but this is not properly called mercy; because it doth not suppose any precedent misery, from which it frees and rescues them. Briefly, therefore, those free and gratuitous favours, which God bestows upon Ins creatures, if they were wretched before, are an expression ot his mercy; if they were not wretched, are an expression of his goodness: and therefore our creation and preservation is properly an effect of the divine goodness, because these benefits do not suppose us lying under any misery, nor deliver us out of it; but our redemption and salvation are an effect of the divine mercy properly so called, because these are conferred upon us when we were lost, ruined, and undone, with a purpose to deliver us from that abyss of woe and misery into which we had plunged ourselves. But, because the acts, both of God's mercy and goodness, are one and the same, but are only modified according to the divers considerations of their objects, therefore we may well treat of them as oue and the same attribute in the divine nature.
Now this merciful goodness of God is one of the most radiant and sparkling gems in his crown: and, when God would be seen by us in all his state and splendour, he arrays himself with this attribute. And, therefore, when Moses had attained such holy freedom with God, as to entreat him to shew him his glory, Exod. xxxiii. 13. it is remarkable that God condescends to his request, and tells him, v. 19. / will make all my goodness pas* before thee: he grants his petition; but withal informs him, that he could not see his essential glory, for that is too dazzling an object for frail and mortal eyes to bear: Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live: v. 20. But, yet, when God would shew himself in the brightest and most illustrious glory that a mortal man can behold, he selects out and puts on this attribute of his goodness: and, accordingly, ch. xxxiv. 6. he passeth by in pomp, and magnificently proclaims his name, The Lord, the Lord God: what! The Lord God great and terrible, that formed all things by the word of his mouth, and can destroy all things by the breath of his nostrils? that . rides upon the wings of the wind, and makes the clouds the dust of his feet? that rends the mountains in sunder, and makes the hills shrink from his presence? that overturneth kingdoms, and brings decreed destruction upon all the beauty and stability of mundane affairs? No: though God be very glorious in these expressions of his power and majesty; yet this is not that name, which he chiefly delights to honour: but, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; Keeping mercy for thousands; forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.
Thus you see God owns his mercy and goodness, as his dearest attribute and his peculiar glory: he seems, as it were, to esteem and value himself upon it: and therefore, certainly, we ought to glorify him in that, wherein he accounts himself so glorious.
But how may we glorify God in his mercy and goodness?
I answer, these Four Ways.
(1st) By endeavouring to Assimilate Ourselves unto it; labouring after an universal goodness, in all our converse and demeanour.
Then is God's goodness glorified, when we endeavour to transcribe and copy it forth in ourselves. Every true Christian ought to be so deeply tinctured with the serious consideration of the mercy and goodness of God, till he is transformed into the very image and likeness of it. This will render it visible and conspicuous unto men. How should we know that the sun is so bright and glorious a creature, if the air were not all strewed and powdered with its light? our eyes discern the light of the sun, by the light of the air through which it diffuses and scatters its rays, and turns all that vast body into light and splendour.