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but it changes not our God.
change customs, families, and all things here: of God; and fill us continually with his holy The creatures are all but earthen metal, and quickly dash in pieces: comforts are changeable; ourselves are changeable and mortal: but so is not our God.
3. And it should teach us to draw as near to God as we are capable by unchangeable fixed resolutions, and constancy of endeavours; and to be still the same as we are at the best.
4. It should move us also to be more desirous of passing into the state of immortality, to long for our unchangeable habitation, and our immortal, incorruptible bodies, and to possess the kingdom that cannot be moved, and let not the mutability of things below much trouble us, while our rock, our portion, is immovable. God waxes not old: heaven doth not decay by duration: the glory of the blessed shall not wither, nor their sun set upon them, nor their day have any night; nor any mutations or commotions disturb their quiet possessions. O love and long for immortality and incorruption!
Having spoken of the effects of the attributes of God's essence as such, we must next speak of the effects of his three great attributes which some call subsistential, that is, his omnipotency, understanding and will; or his infinite power, wisdom and goodness: by which it hath been the way of the schoolmen and other divines to denominate the three persons, not without some countenance from scripture phrase. The Father they call the infinite power of the Godhead; and the Son, the wisdom and word of God, and of the Father: and the Holy Ghost, the love and goodness of God, of the Father and Son. But, that these attributes of power, understanding and will, or power, wisdom and goodness, are of the same importance with the terms of personality, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we presume not to affirm. It suffices us, 1. That God hath assumed these attributes to himself in scripture. 2. And that man who bears the natural image of God, hath power, understanding and will; and as he bears the holy, moral image of God, he hath a power to execute that which is good, and wisdom to direct, and goodness of will to determine for the execution: and so while God is seen of us in this glass of man, we must conceive of him after the image that in man appears to us, and speak of him in the language of man, as he doth of himself.
The almightiness of God ought to make these impressions on our souls. It ought to possess the soul with very awful and reverent thoughts
fear. Infinite greatness and power, must have no common, careless thoughts, lest we blaspheme him in our minds, and be guilty of contempt. The dread of the heavenly majesty should be still upon us; and we must be in his fear all the day long, not under that slavish fear that is void of love, as men fear an enemy, or hurtful creature, or that which is evil: for we have not such a Spirit from the Lord, nor stand in a relation of enmity and bondage to him: but reverence is necessary; and from thence a fear of sinning and displeasing so great a God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.-By it men depart from evil.' The fear of God, the want of which is sin, is often put for the whole new man, or all the work of grace within us, even the principle of new life and it is often put for the whole work of religion, or service of God; therefore the godly are usually denominated such as fear God; the godly are devoted to the fear of God.' It is our 'sanctifying the Lord in our hearts, that he be our fear and dread.' If we fear him not, we take him not for our master. Evangelical grace excludes not this fear; though we receive a kingdom that cannot be moved,' yet must our acceptable service of God be with reverence and godly fear. With fear and trembling we must work out our salvation. In fear we must pass the time of sojourning here.' In it we must converse together; yea, holiness is to be perfected in the fear of God,' and that because we have the promises.' The most prosperous churches walk in this fear, it is a necessary means of preventing destruction, and of attaining salvation when we have the promises. God puts this fear in the hearts of those that shall not depart from him.' See therefore that the greatness of the Almighty God possess thy soul continually with his fear.
God's almightiness should also possess us with holy admiration of him, and cause us in heart and voice to magnify him. O what a power is that which made the world of nothing; which upholds the earth without any foundation but his will; which placed and maintains all things in their order in heaven and earth; which causes so great and glorious a creature as the sun, that is so much bigger than all the earth, to move so many thousand miles in a few moments, and constantly to keep its time and course! That gives its instinct to every brute, and causes every part of nature to do its office! By his power it is that every motion of the creature is performed, and that order is kept in the kingdoms of the world. He made the heaven and the earth by
his great power, and stretched out arm, and no- | God whom we serve is able to deliver us.' He thing is too hard for him: the great, the mighty that is afraid to stand upon a slender bow, or God, the Lord of hosts, is his name; great in upon the unstable waters, is not afraid to stand counsel, and mighty in work.-The great, the upon the earth; and he that is afraid of robbers mighty, the terrible God.—To him therefore that when he is alone, is bolder in a conquering alone doth great wonders, we must give the great- army; what will man trust, if he distrust omniest praise.--O how great are his works, and his potency? Where can we be safe, if not in the thoughts are very deep.-Great is our Lord and love, the covenant, the hands of the Almighty of great power. Therefore in Zion must he be God? When storms and winds had frighted the great.-And his great and terrible name must be disciples, lest they should be drowned when praised.' Christ was in the ship, their sin was aggravated by the presence of their powerful Lord, whose mighty works they had often seen. Why fear ye, saith he, O ye of little faith? Cannot he rebuke the winds and waves; and will not all obey the rebukes of the Almighty? When thou hast a want that God cannot supply, or a sickness that he cannot cure, or a danger that he cannot prevent, then be thou fearful, distrust him, and spare not. Remember also in thy lowest state, and in the church's greatest sufferings or dangers, that the Almighty is able to raise up his church or thee even in a moment.
3. In the church where he is known, must his name be great; thus, For we know that the Lord is great, and our God is above all gods.' His saints delight to praise his greatness: Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, who coverest thyself with light as with a garment, who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain, who layeth the beams of his cham bers in the waters, who maketh the clouds his chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the wind, who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flame of fire,' &c. From almightiness all things have their being, and therefore must honour the Almighty. Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.' They that magnify the Lord with the song of Moses and of the Lamb, say, 'great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.'
The almightiness of God must imprint upon our souls a strong and stedfast confidence in him, according to the tenor of his covenant and promises. Nothing more certain than that impotency and insufficiency will never cause him to fail us, or to break his word. O what an encouragement is it to the saints, that they are built on such an impregnable rock, and that omnipotency is engaged for them! O what a shame is this to our unbelief, that ever we should distrust omnipotency!
If God be almighty, remember in thy greatest wants, that there is no want but he can easily and abundantly supply. Remember in thy greatest suffering, pains, or dangers, that no pain is so great which he cannot mitigate and remove, and no danger so great from which he is not able to deliver thee. The servants of Christ dare venture on the flames, because they trust upon the Almighty. In confidence of omnipotency, they dare stand against the threatenings of the greatest upon earth. We are not careful,' said those three believers to the king, 'to answer thee in this matter: if it be so, our
If you say, that it is true God can do it, but we know not whether he will; I answer, 1. I shall show you in due place, how far he hath revealed his will for such deliverances. In sum, we have his promise, that all things shall work together for our good, and what would we have more? would you have that which is evil for you? 2. At present, see that omnipotency do establish thy confidence so far as it is concerned in the cause. Be sure that no work is too hard for the Almighty: do not so much as in the thoughts of thy heart, make question of his power, and say with those unbelievers, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Can he give bread also? Can he provide flesh?' If really thou distrust not the power of God, believe then the most difficult or improbable things, as well as the easiest and most probable, if God reveal or promise them. The resurrection seems improbable to impotent man; but God hath promised it: and nothing is difficult to omnipotency. The calling of the Jews; the ruin of the Turk; the downfall of the pope; the unity of Christians, all seem to us unlikely things: but all things to God are not only possible, but easy. He is at no more labour to make a world, than to make a straw, or make a fly. 'Whatsoever pleased the Lord, that did he in heaven and earth, in the sea and in the depths.' Dost thou think it improbable that ever all thy sins should be conquered; and that ever thy soul should live with Christ among the holy saints and angels; and that ever thy body, that must first be
dust, should shine as the stars in the firmament | from the Lord! For he shall be like the heath of God? Why doth it seem to thee improba- in the deserts, and shall not see when good comble? Is it not as easy to God as to cause the eth. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the earth to stand on nothing, and the sun to run Lord, whose hope the Lord is; for he shall be as its daily course? If God had promised you to a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth live a day longer, or any small and common out her roots by the river, and shall not see when things, thou couldst then believe him; and is it heat cometh.' not as easy to him to advance thee to everlasting glory, as to cause thee to live another hour, or to keep a hair of thy head from perishing? Sin is too strong for thee to overcome, but not for God. Death is too strong for thee to conquer; but not for Christ. Heaven is too high for thee to reach by thy own strength; but he that is there, and prepared it for thee, can take thee thither.
Trust God or trust nothing: he that cannot trust in him shall despair for ever; for all other confidence will deceive him. They that know his name will put their trust in him; for the Lord hath not forsaken them that seek him. All those that trust in him shall rejoice, and ever shout for joy, because he defendeth them. Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.' O what hath almightiness done in the world; what for the church; what for thee; and yet wilt thou distrust him? 'O how great is the goodness that he hath laid up for them that fear him; which he hath wrought for them that trust in him before the souls of men?-The Lord redeemeth the souls of his servants, and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.' Are thy straits too great; thy work too hard? Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.' In thy lowest state look up to the Almighty, and say, 'what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee in God have I put my trust; I will not fear what man can do unto me.-The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer: my God and my strength; in whom I will put my trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. He is a buckler to all that trust in him. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.' Trust not in the creature, that is, in vanity and infirmity. There is not almightiness in man, or any creature. It is better therefore to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man: it is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in princes. What a working passage is that, Thus saith the Lord, cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth
Trust also in God, as one that is assured that no enemy is too strong for the Almighty. Alas, what is an army of dust to omnipotency? If the Lord but arise, his enemies will be scattered, and they that hate him will flee before him; as smoke is driven away, and as wax melteth before the fire, the wicked shall perish at the presence of the Lord.' While the Lord of Hosts is for us, we need not fear if hosts come against us; at worst they can but kill our bodies; and greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world. O what a match have the miserable enemies of the church; what a work do they undertake; what a desperate attempt do they enterprize; to strive against heaven, and overcome omnipotency?
Trust in the Lord, as one that believes that no means or instruments are too small or weak for almightiness successfully to use. No matter who the instrument be, how mean, weak, and despicable, if it be but an almighty hand that uses it. A few poor fishermen and despised people, shall pull down Satan's kingdom in the world, and conquer the greatest, and bring in the nations to the faith, if omnipotency be with them.
The almightiness of God must fill our hearts with courage and resolution in his cause, and make us go on with greater alacrity in his work. Though we must be doves and lambs for innocency and meekness; yet must we be soldiers for valour and stability. Shall we flag or shrink, that have omnipotency on our side? Whoever scorns thee, or hates, or threatens, and imprisons thee, is not the almighty enough to set against them all, for thy encouragement?
The almightiness of God must be the comfort of all that have interest in him. O, did the blind world but see him that is omnipotent, or know the strength that is engaged for the weakest saint, they would soon see which is the strongest side, and which to cleave to, for their security. O blessed people, that have the Almighty on their side, and engaged with them against their enemies, and to do their works, and answer their desires! How can any of them perish, when the almighty is engaged for their salvation? The Father is greater than all, and none shall take them out of his hands.' How glad would men be in the beginning of a war, to
The next attribute that must work upon us, is the infinite wisdom, or omniscience of God. His understanding is infinite. The impressions that this should make upon our souls are these:
1. Delight in wisdom, that you may in your places be like to God. The new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. If God be infinitely wise, those then are the most excellent that are the wisest. Ignorance is the soul's blindness, and the privation of the image of God on the understanding. 'Wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.' To desire, as Adam did, any of that knowledge that God hath reserved to himself, or is unnecessary for us, is not indeed to be wise in our desires: unnecessary knowledge is but a trouble. But to know the Lord, and his revealed will, and the way of life, is the light and glory of our minds. He that hath lost his eye-sight, hath lost his principal natural delight, and is as one out of the world while he is in it. The ignorant souls that are void of the heavenly illumination, must needs be void of the delights of grace, and though they live in the visible church, where the beauty of holiness is the excellency of the saints, yet they do not see this beauty; but are like the infidels that are out of the church, while they are in it. The blind are in continual danger; they know not where they set their feet. They know not when to be confident, nor when to fear; sometimes they are afraid where there is no cause, because there may be cause for aught they know; and sometimes they are fearless at the very brink of death, and little think of the evil that they are near. Why do our poor deluded people so boldly live in an unconverted state, but because they know not where they are? Why do they so carelessly lie down and rise in an unsanctified condition, unpardoned, unready for death and judgment, and under the condemnation of the law, but because they know not the misery or danger in which they stand? Why do they go on so carelessly and wilfully in sin, despise the counsel of their teachers and of the Lord, and take a holy life as needless, but because they know not what they do? Men could not go so quietly or merrily to hell, with their
eyes open, as they do when they are shut by ignorance.
Whence is it, that such multitudes are still ungodly, under all the teachings and warnings of the Lord? but because They have their understandings darkened, being alienated from the life of God, by the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; and therefore many being past feeling, have given them over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.' Sin is the fruit of folly, and the greatest folly: they are fools that make a jest of it.' It is for want of wisdom that they die. The ignorant are prisoners to the prince of darkness. Knowledge is despised by none but fools.' The conquest of so many subtile enemies, the performance of so many spiritual duties, which we must go through, if we will be saved, are works too hard for fools to do. The saving of a man's soul, is a work that requires the greatest wisdom. Therefore the illumination of the mind is God's first work in the conversion of a sinner. If infinite wisdom communicate to you but the smallest beam of heavenly light, it will change your minds, and make you other men than before, and set you on another course; wisdom will be your guide, and keep you in safe paths; it will cause you to refuse the evil, and to choose the good: it will show you true happiness, and the way to obtain it: it will cause you to foresee the evil, and escape it, when fools go on and are destroyed. Wisdom will teach you to know the season, to redeem your time, and walk exactly, when folly will leave you to too late repentance. There is not a soul in hell but was brought thither by sinful folly; nor is there a soul in heaven (of them at age) but by heavenly wisdom was conducted thither. In worldly matters the wicked may seem wisest; and many a saint may be very ignorant but when you see the end, you will all confess that those were the wise men, that had wisdom to repel temptations, to refuse the enticing baits of sin, and to make sure of everlasting joys.
O therefore apply your hearts to wisdom! go to Christ for it, who is the wisdom of God, and is appointed by him to be our wisdom. He will teach it you, who is the best master in the world, so you will but keep in his school, that is, his church, and will humbly learn as little children, and apply yourselves submissively to his Spirit, word and ministers: Ask wisdom of God, that giveth liberally, and upbraideth not' with former ignorance. Think not any pains in holy means too much to get it. 'If thou wilt receive the words of God, and hide his commandments with
thee, and incline thy heart to wisdom, and apply | all, is as wise as God? It is the constant course it to understanding; yea, if thou criest after of a worldly man to advise with the world, and knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for under- of carnal men to advise with the flesh; and standing; if thou seekest her as silver, and search- therefore it is that they are hurried to perdition. est for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou The flesh is brutish, and will lead you to a brutish understand the fear of the Lord, and find the life; and if you live after it, undoubtedly you knowledge of God; for the Lord giveth wisdom; shall die; and if you sow to it, you shall but reap out of his mouth is knowledge and understand- corruption. If you are tempted to lust, will you ing;' and fear not being a loser by thy cost or ask the flesh that tempts you, whether you should labour. For happy is the man that findeth wis- yield? If the cup of excess be offered to you, dom, and the man that getteth understanding or flesh-pleasing feasts prepared for you, will you for the merchandise of it is better than silver, ask the flesh whether you should take them, or and the gain thereof than of fine gold: she is refuse them? You may easily know what counmore precious than rubies, and all the things thou sel it will give you. The counsel of God, and canst desire, are not to be compared to her; her of our flesh, are contrary; and therefore the lives ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths of the carnal and spiritual man are contrary. are peace.' Will you venture on the advice of a brutish appetite, and refuse the counsel of the all-knowing God? Such as is your guide, and counsellor, such will be your end.
Never man miscarried by obeying God; and never man sped well by obeying the flesh: God leads no man to perdition, and the flesh leads no man to his salvation. God's motions are all for our eternal good, though they seem to be for our temporal hurt the motions of the flesh are for our eternal hurt, though at present they seem to be for our corporal benefit. If at any time you be at a loss, and your carnal friends, or your ease, or pleasure advises you one way, and the word of God and his faithful ministers advise you another way, use but your reason well, and consider whether God or those that contradict him be the wiser, and accordingly suit your practice. Alas! man, thy friend is ignorant, and knows not what is good for himself. Thy flesh is ignorant, and knows not what is good for thy soul! But God knows all things. Your flesh and friends feel what pleases them at present, and judge accordingly but what will be hereafter they understand not, or consider not but God knows as well what will be, as what is he counsels you as one that knows how your actions will appear at last, and what it is that will save you, or undo you, to all eternity. If you be but sick, it is two to one but the counsel of your
2. The infinite wisdom of God, must resolve you to take him for your principal teacher, counsellor and director, in all your undertakings. Who would go and seek the advice of a fool, when he may have infallible wisdom to direct him? In a work of so great difficulty and concern, a work that hell, and earth, and flesh oppose; a work that our everlasting state depends on; I think it behoves us to take the best advice that we can get. And who knows the will of God, like God? or who knows the certain means of salvation, like him that is the author and giver of salvation? Would you know whether it be best to live a mortified, holy life? Who shall be your counsellor? If you advise with the flesh, you know that it would be pleased. If you advise with the world or wicked men, you know, that they would be imitated, and judge as they are; and are not likely to be wise for you, that are so foolish for themselves, as to part with heaven for a merry dream. If you advise with the devil, you know he would be obeyed, and have company in his misery. You can advise with none but God, but such as are your enemies; and will you ask an enemy, a deadly enemy, what course you should take to make you happy? Will you ask the devil how you may be saved; or will you ask the blind, ungodly world, what course you should take to please the Lord? Or will you ask the flesh, by what means you may sub-physician and of your appetite will differ. If due it, and become spiritual? If you take advice of scripture, of the Spirit, of a holy well-informed minister, or Christian, or of a renewed, well-informed conscience, I take this for your advising with the Lord; but besides these that are his mouth, you can ask advice of none but enemies. But if they were ever so much your friends, and wanted wisdom, they could but ignorantly seduce you. Do you think that any of them
you obey your physician before your appetite, for your health or life, should you not obey God before it, for your salvation? Do you think in your consciences, that any that persuade you to a careless, worldly, fleshly life, are as wise as God that persuades you to the contrary? You dare not say so with your tongues: and yet the most dare say to their lives. O how justly do the ungodly perish, that deliberately